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From the abundant records and traditions dealing with 
the curious belief that certain men and women can 
transform themselves into animals I have collected a 
number of instances and examples which throw fresh 
light on the subject both from the point of view of 
folk-lore and occultism. The causes of transformation 
are various : contact with a wer-animal, touching what 
he has touched, wearing an animal skin, rubbing the body 
with ointment, slipping on a girdle, buckling on a strap, 
and many other expedients, magical and otherwise, may 
bring about the metamorphosis. Removing the skin, 
burning it, or piercing it with the stab of a knife, or the 
shot from a gun, so that blood is drawn, are among the 
best-known methods for causing the human shape to be 
resumed, but the stab should be on the brow or between 
the eyes, and the bullet should be made of silver and is 
all the better for having been blessed in a chapel of St. 
Hubert, otherwise the attempt to break the enchantment 
may fail. The penalty for being a wer-animal is death, 
but sentence is not passed until after some ordeal has 
been gone through, such as dipping the finger into 
boiling resin, innocence being established if the finger be 
drawn out unhurt. Any wound inflicted on the trans- 




formed animal is simultaneously inflicted on the human 
body, and in many other characteristics the nature 
of the wer-animal is similar to that of the witch or 

In " Balder the Beautiful " Dr. J. G. Frazer, after 
telling many typical stories, endeavours to establish a 
parallelism between witches and wer-animals, the analogy 
appearing to confirm the view that the reason for burning 
a bewitched animal alive is a belief that the human being 
is in the animal, and that by burning you compel him to 
assume another shape. Since the sum of energy in the 
universe is held to be constant and invariable, the chain 
of transformation is thus continued, and form follows 
form, endlessly linked together. By some such theory 
the phenomena of life and death may be explained and 
the doctrine of immortality, usually applied only to the 
soul of man, can be reasonably extended to animals. 

The belief that human and animal souls possess power 
and entity when externalised and apart from the Hving 
body is less widely held than that of persistence after 
death. It is one that bears strongly on the subject of 
animal transformation, as well as on the affinity which 
certain animals possess for some families, an affinity that 
is akin to totemism. 

These preliminary suggestions will enable readers to 
grasp the scope of my book, which is intended to provide 
a comprehensive view of the subject and to familiarise 
them with the nature of the phenomena, even though it 
has been well-nigh impossible to classify and tabulate 
them fully, or to explain them satisfactorily. 


I wish to express my thanks to Miss J. A. Middleton, 
author of " The Grey Ghost Book," for her kindness in 
reading my work in MS., and to her and others for 
suggesting interesting material. 

London, 191 5 

C. A. W. 








Introductory ..... 



Transformation ..... 



The Bush-Soul ..... 



Human Souls in Animal Bodies . 

. 23 


Animal Dances ...... 



Man-Animal and Animal-Man ^ 



Scapegoat and Saint .... 



The Wer-Wolf Trials . . . . 



The Wer-Wolf in Myth and Legend . 



Lion- and Tiger-Men 



Wer-Fox and Wer- Vixen . . . . 



Witches . . . . . 






Transformation in Folk-lore and Fairy-tale 



Transformation in Folk-lore and Fairy-tale 

(^continued) ....... 



Fabulous Animals and Monsters 



Human Serpents 



Cat and Cock Phantoms . . . . 






XIX. Bird-Women 

XX. Family Animals 

XXI. Animal Ghosts 

XXII. The Phantasmal Double 

XXIII. Animal Elementals 

XXIV. Animal Spirits in Ceremonial Magic 
XXV. Conclusion ..... 







The belief that men can change into animals and 
animals into men is as old as life itself. It originates 
in the theory that all things are created from one sub- 
stance, mind or spirit, which according to accident or 
design takes a distinctive appearance, to mortal eye, of 
shape, colour, and solidity. Transformation from one 
form to another then becomes a thinkable proposition, 
especially if it be admitted that plastic thought in the 
spirit world takes on changed forms and conditions 
more readily than in the world of matter. The belief of 
primitive races that all created beings have an immortal 
soul dwelling in a material body applies equally to the 
brute creation and to the human race. " In the be- 
ginning of things," says Leland, " men were as animals 
and animals as men."^ The savage endows brutes with 
similar intelligence and emotions to his own. He does 
not distinguish between the essential nature of man, of 
various beasts, and even of inanimate objects, except 
where outward form is concerned ; and he senses, even 
more clearly than his civilised brother, the psychic 
bonds which unite man and the animals. Folk-lore 
abounds in incidents which are based on the imperman- 

^ Iceland, C. G.^ "Algonquin Legends oi New England," Boston 
1884, p. 31. 


ence o£ form and which tell of people changing into 
animals or animals changing into human beings. 

The scientific problems of to-day which deal with the 
theory of breaking up matter into electrons may quite 
possibly have a bearing on this subject and may not be 
so far removed, as appears at first sight to be the case, 
from the intuitive beliefs of the savage. 

Transformation was held to be accomplished in various 
ways, a sorcerer, a witch or the evil one himself being 
the agent through whom the change was effected. 
Certain people have had ascribed to them the power of 
self-transformation, a curious psychical gift which to 
this day appeals to imaginative people, and which may 
be regarded as a projection of mind in animal form. 

Changes may be voluntary or involuntary, self- 
transformation belonging more frequently to the former 
class and transformation by sorcery, witchcraft or black 
magic more often to the latter class. The motives of a 
human being who wishes to change into an animal are 
naturally regarded with suspicion. Greed, cruelty, and 
cannibalism are accusations brought against those who 
were tried in the Middle Ages for the crime of lycan- 
thropy, the transformation into a wolf or other wild 
beast. The desire to taste human flesh is a horrible 
but not improbable reason for the offence. The wish 
to inspire fear or to gain personal power over others 
are motives for impersonating wild and fearsome animals, 
as effective where superstitious people are concerned as 
the less common faculty of transforming actual flesh. 

Savage races do not necessarily connect the idea of 
transformation with any thought of evil. They find 
the plan of impersonating an animal in its lair, for the 
sake of safety, say, extremely useful. They have also 
the best of reasons for developing a special attribute, 
such as the keen scent of the hound, the long sight of 
the eagle, the natural protective power against cold 
possessed by the wolf and so forth, imitative suggestion 
which occurs in many of their primitive customs. Thus 


the Cherokee Indian when starting on a winter's journey 
endeavours by singing and other mimetic action to 
identify himself with the wolf, the fox, the opossum or 
other wild animal, of which the feet are regarded by 
him as impervious to frost-bite. The words he chants 
mean, " I become a real wolf, a real deer, a real fox, and 
a real opossum."^ Then he gives a long howl to imitate 
the wolf or barks like a fox and paws and scratches the 
ground. Thus he establishes a belief in transformation 
by sympathetic or homoeopathic magic, and starts forth 
on his difficult journey in perfect confidence, the power 
of auto-suggestion aiding him on his way. Such customs 
are closely allied with the superstitions of the dark ages, 
when it was assumed without question that bodily trans- 
formation took place. 

Involuntary change into animal shape was thought to 
occur as a punishment for crime, and was looked upon 
as a judgment of the gods. Few beliefs are more common 
among savages than that reincarnation in a lower form 
is the result of sin in a previous existence. Bats especially 
are held to be the abode of the souls of the dead, and to 
some races they are sacrosanct for this reason. Most 
animals have been looked upon as a possible receptacle 
of man's soul, and many primitive tribes believe that 
man can choose in which animal body he prefers to 
dwell. In the Solomon Islands, for instance, a dying 
man informs the members of his family in what sort of 
animal shape he expects to live again. One among 
hundreds of similar superstitions is that if a cat jumps 
over a corpse, the soul of the deceased enters its body. 

Murder of what is holy, and the offering of human 
sacrifices are two offences punishable by transformation, 
but once transformed, the soul-animal wins respect rather 
than contempt, and care is taken that no injury shall 
befall it, lest a relative or friend should suffer. A savage 
avoids harming his own family animal, but does not 

1 Frazer, J. G., "The Golden Bough," "The Magic Art," 191 1, 
Vol. I, pp. 155-6. 


hesitate to kill the soul-animal into which a member of 
a hostile tribe has entered. Should such an animal die, 
the soul is thought hy many races to pass into another 
body of the same type, but other tribes, especially in 
Madagascar, believe that the death of the animal releases 
the human soul that had lodged within it. 

A more original idea is that certain human beings 
possess animal doubles and that the soul-animal roams at 
large while the man remains visible in his ordinary form, 
and many of the vampire and wer-wolf stories are 
traceable to this belief. The Toradjas of Central Celebes 
believe that the insida parts only of the man take on the 
animal shape, a state which they term lamhoyo. The 
lamboyo may be distinguished from an ordinary animal 
by being misshapen to some extent, for instance, a buffalo 
may have only one horn, or a dog may have a pig's snout. 
The lamhoyo^ like the vampire, has a preference for 
human victims, whom he grievously tortures and maims. 

Far more beautiful is the myth of tanoana^ the divine 
essence in man which goes forth from his body, as in 
sleep, and, being of the same nature as the soul of the 
animal, allows of interchange to take place between the 
human and the animal bodies. 

Even amongst the most practical and enlightened 
people of to-day psychic experiences in which animals 
have played a part are of common enough occurrence, 
and a survey of the grounds on which man and animal 
shapes and spirits meet may help them to understand 
things which, to our limited human intelligence, appear 
at least strange, if not altogether inexplicable. 



How did man come to change into an animal ? Folk- 
lore and superstition describe. a number of ways. The 
most common method appears to have been the wearing 
of the skin of the animal in question. One drew it over 
one's shoulders, mask and all, and awaited results. These 
were not always satisfactory, and if any delay occurred 
it was better to strip off the clothes, rub the limbs with 
a potent ointment and murmur a long incantation. 
Such things, if we may believe tradition, invariably did 
the trick. But there were many other ways of bringing 
about the desired state. According to Grimm,^ trans- 
formation could be effected by tying a strap of human 
skin round the body ; others say the skin must be a 
girdle made from the animal's hide. ... It also sufficed 
to shift the buckle of a certain strap to the ninth hole. 
To drink water out of the footprint made by the animal, 
to partake of its brains, to drink from certain enchanted 
streams, to haunt the lair of a wer-wolf, to eat his food 
or come into personal contact with him or his belongings 
were all means of voluntary or involuntary transforma- 
tion which, according to its nature, might be permanent 
or merely transitory. Livonian wer-wolves were initiated 
by drinking a cup of beer of a special character accom- 
panied by a particular incantation. Other countries had 
magical procedure which differed in detail, if not in the 
main features. As a rule the devil was supposed to have 
had a hand in the transformation process, and one man 

i "Teutonic Mythology." 



accused of the crime declared that a female devil had 
presented him with a belt and whenever he buckled it 
he was changed into a wolf spontaneously. This gentle- 
man, when he was back in human shape, was always 
heard to remark in surprise that he had not the faintest 
idea where the bristles went which had adorned him 
when in wolfish form. 

A return to human body was sometimes easy, some- 
times extremely difficult. The girdle or skin being 
removed was often sufficient to remove the enchantment 
too. Plunging into water or rolling over and over in 
dew were said to be equally efficacious. A considerably 
slower method was to kneel in one spot for a hundred 
years, long enough, one would imagine to deter anyone 
from ill-judged ambitions to prowl around the world in 
animal shape. Other cures, however, were simpler, such 
as being saluted with the sign of the cross, or to be called 
three times loudly by the baptismal name, or to be 
struck three blows on the forehead by a knife, or to have 
three drops of blood drawn from some part of the body. 
In many cases one other person besides the transformed 
man was in possession of certain formulae necessary for 
restoring him to a normal appearance, and if by any 
accident this person was killed or otherwise removed 
from the sphere of action, woe betide him in animal 
shape, for he probably had to retain it during the rest 
of his natural existence. 

There is a legend in Lorraine that if stalks of grass are 
pulled up, blessed and thrown against a tree, wolves 
spring forth, being transformed from the men who 
threw the grass. To become a she-bear it is only neces- 
sary to put a slip of wood into one's mouth ; when the 
wood is taken out human shape returns. 

Another myth, mentioned by Grimm, is that at cer- 
tain times of night wer-wolves turn into three-legged 
dogs and can only be freed by someone crying out *' wer- 

Seven and nine are important numbers in transforma- 


tion. When seven girls are born of one marriage, one is 
thought to turn into a wer-wolf and the seventh child 
of the seventh child is predestined to the same fate. The 
spell is said to last nine days. Anyone who puts on a 
wolf-shirt is transformed into a wolf for this period and 
returns to human shape on the tenth day. Grimm says 
the seal is supposed to doif his fishy skin every ninth 
day and for one day become a man, and there is a 
common saying that a cat twenty years old turns into a 
witch, and a witch of a hundred turns back into a cat. 

Having taken the body of a beast, man becomes known as 
a wer-animal, wer being probably derived from the Latin 
vir,^ He then assumes the characteristics of the natural 
animal, with additional strength, agility, and ferocity. 

In mediaeval times powers of transformation seem to 
have been sought after and were even regarded as a 
privilege. Although often acquired for evil purposes, 
among primitive peoples to change into an animal did 
not necessarily imply a descent in the scale of being. To 
them there is but a slight line of demarcation between the 
animal world and mankind. They are not influenced so 
much by the idea of human degradation as by a beautiful 
belief in the brotherhood and fellowship of all creation. 

Lycanthropy is the technical name for the pathological 
condition of a man who believes he has become an animal. 
The word means literally v>^olf-man, the wolf being 
chosen as the most dangerous animal known in European 
countries, though the tiger, hysena, or any other wild 
animal serves the purpose equally well. 

The symptoms exhibited by the wer-animal are at 
first extreme restlessness and anxiety. He develops, 
sometimes instantaneously, sometimes by degrees, the 
instincts of the kind of creature into which he has been 
transformed, often acquiring enormous strength and the 
special characteristics of the animal. If it be carnivorous 

* This appears to be the usually adopted explanation, but on p. 6j 
a suggestion is made regarding the word versipelleSy which may throw 
a different light on the derivation. 


by nature he has a lust to kill, and he can do what the 
animal does as well as what he was naturally capable of 
doing. His body is in the shape of an animal, but his 
eyes, according to some accounts, remain unchanged, 
and the human being looks out of these windows of his 
soul. His intelligence will probably, however, be dark- 
ened by the shadow of malignity or passion usual to the 
lower creation. 

As early as 1579, Wierius described lycanthropia as a 
disease, and declared the Arabs called it Chatrap, after an 
animal. Another name was Tipule, (Latin race.) The 
victims had sunken eyes and could not see well, the tongue 
was dry and they were thirsty, the saliva being dried up. 
To cure them they had to be w^ell-fed, much bathed, 
and given drugs which were used in melancholic diseases. 
Before an attack the head was rubbed with soporific 
herbs, opium was applied to the nose and the patient was 
dosed with a narcotic. 

When under the delusion that he is changed into a 
wolf the wer-animal gives vent to a long howl and starts 
off with a rush to the nearest forest, where he prowls 
about through the night seeking his victims. These he 
kills in the ordinary manner of a wild beast, tearing 
asunder their limbs and feasting on their flesh. In some 
countries his method is more elaborate and it is supposed 
that the wer-wolf, having chosen his victim, exerts cer- 
tain occult powers to numb his faculties and, cutting up 
the body, extracts the liver, which he eats and then joins 
the parts of the body together again so that the friends 
of the dead man know not how he came to lose his life. 

Having satisfied his thirst for blood, the man-wolf, at 
the wane of his madness, once more seeks human shape, 
and then it is probable that he suffers for his abnormal 
appetites. Reaction leaves him weak and debilitated, 
with dry throat and tongue, feeble vision, hollow and 
discoloured cheeks, and sore places where he was hurt 
by his victim struggling for life. 

Some subjects of lycanthropia, or imitative madness. 


endure still greater horrors, and the case of a patient 
who trembled with terror at his own condition is quoted 
by M. Morel in his " Etudes Cliniques."i " See this 
mouth," he cried, touching his lips with his fingers, " it 
is the mouth o£ a wolf, and see the long hairs which cover 
my body and my paws. Let me bound away into the 
woods so you may shoot me there ! " When his family 
endeavoured to caress him, he cried out that they were 
embracing a wolf. He asked for raw meat, the only 
food he could touch, but on tearing it apart he found 
it not to his liking as it had not been freshly killed. 
Thus he went through the tortures of the damned until 
released by death. 

Another victim of the disease is mentioned by Fincelius 
in his second Book of Wonders. He says that " at Padua 
in the year 1541 a certain husbandman did seem to him- 
self wolf, and did leap upon many in the fields, and did 
kill them. And that at last he was taken not without 
much difficulty, and did confidently afiirm that he was a 
true wolf, only that the difference was in the skin turned 
in with the hairs. And therefore that, having put off all 
humanity and being truly truculent and voracious, he 
did smite and cut off his legs and arms, thereby to try 
the truth of the matter, but the innocency of the man 
being known, they committed him to the chirurgeon's 
to be cured, but that he died not many days after. Which 
instance is sufficient to overthrow the vain opinion of 
those men that believe that a man or woman may be 
really transubstantiated into a wolf, dog, cat, squirrel 
or the like without the operation of an omnipotent 

In spite of the unpleasant consequences with which 
lycanthropy seems to be connected there is little doubt 
that transformation used to be regarded as a useful and 
sometimes even profitable relaxation. Those who were 
already initiated into its mysteries were generally willing 
to help others to obtain proficiency, and a draught from 

1 Vol. II, p. 58. 


the hand of an expert was considered enough to produce 
the desired condition in the novice. 

Predestination to become a wer-animal is thought to 
be distinguished hy some pecuHarity in the appearance, 
such as the meeting of the eyebrows, and the tendency 
to transform is beHeved to wax and wane with the seasons 
and to be subject to the influence of the moon. 

The head, claws, and hairy skin of a wer-wolf are Hke 
those of a real wolf, but the great test of identity lies in 
his lack of tail, and in his clothes, which are sure to be 
found not far from the scene of slaughter. 

When doubt is felt whether a wer-wolf is a human 
being or a real wolf, steel or iron is thrown at the animal 
under suspicion. When this is done to a genuine wer- 
wolf the skin is said to split crosswise on the forehead and 
the naked man comes out through the opening. Some- 
times the wer-wolf is frozen with the cold and then he 
is invulnerable to ordinary weapons. The only way to 
wound him is to shoot at him with balls of elder pith or 
bullets of inherited silver. 

When the victim is attacked by a human animal the 
injured person's clothes are stripped from his body. 
The genuine animal tears them in shreds. If the wer- 
animal has been transformed by means of a strap of 
human skin, his tail is then certain to be truncated. 

In the following Hessian folk-story, which concerns a 
poverty-stricken married couple, a large ring was used 
to bring about the metamorphosis. 

The wife always contrived to have meat for every 
meal and the husband never knew how she managed it. 
After much questioning she agreed to tell him, and 
taking him to a field where sheep were grazing she threw 
a ring over herself and became a wer-wolf. She seized 
one sheep and was running off with it when the man, 
who had promised not to call her by name during the 
performance, cried out, " Oh, Margaret ! " and as he 
did so the wolf disappeared and the woman stood there 
with no clothes on. 


A very similar story is told of a nobleman who fell 
short of food while traversing a wide tract of country 
in Russia with a party of friends. He transformed him- 
self into a wolf and caught several sheep, which provided 
an excellent meal for the travellers. 

In India a story is current that there was once a man 
who was able to change himself into a tiger, but who 
found it very difficult to resume his normal shape. When 
he wished to become human again, it was necessary for 
a particular friend of his to cite a certain formula. The 
friend died and as this catastrophe limited the tiger- 
man's powers he determined to teach the proper formula 
to his Vv^ife. 

A few days later, having enjoyed a glorious hunt and 
devoured several antelopes, he trotted up to his wife in 
the disguise of a tiger, hoping she would not forget how 
to work the spell. When she saw the dangerous monster 
approaching her she began to scream. The animal 
jumped round about her, trying to remind her by dumb 
show of what she had to do, but the greater efforts he 
made the more frightened she grew and the louder 
became her cries. So annoyed was the man-tiger by her 
aggravating stupidity that he thought," This is the most 
irritating woman I ever saw," and, flying into a terrible 
passion, he attacked and slew her. Then to his regret he 
remembered that no other human being knew the incan- 
tation necessary for his release and that he would have 
to remain a tiger for the rest of his days. He grew to 
hate all human beings after that and killed men when- 
ever the chance occurred. 

In the Sanjor and Nerbudda territories there is a 
saying that if a tiger has killed a man he will never slay 
another, because the dead man's spirit rides on his head 
and forces him to seek more lawful prey. 

Some African tribes believe that tailless tigers are 
transformed men, probably because the wer-animal is 
frequently said to have no tail. 

In early Christian times the wer-wolf was often 


regarded as a victim of the evil machinations of a sor- 
cerer. There is a story in the seventh century of a 
man-wolf who defended the head of St. Edward the 
Martyr from the onslaught of other wild beasts. The 
apostles Peter and Paul, according to a Russian folk- 
tale, turned an evil-minded husband and wife into 
bears as a judgment for their sins. 

An object which may have been an inducement to 
transformation was the hope of acquiring second sight, 
a gift with which many animals are thought to be en- 

In the last century in France a connection of the old 
loup-garou existed in the person of the meneur des loups, 
who was said to have the gift of charming or taming 
wolves, which followed him across waste lands on mid- 
night rambles after the style in which the rats followed 
the piping of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

The loup-garou of the French is found in Italy under 
the name of the lupo manaro or versiero. The lupo 
manaro of the Middle Ages was a witch dressed as a 
v/olf, but the same term was applied to a certain hob- 
goblin who was peculiar to the city of Blois and whose 
chief occupation seems to have been to inspire deadly 
fear in young children. The lupo marino^ which might 
be thought to be another kind of wolf, is the name of a 
most ravenous fish, which does not appear to have had 
human attributes. 

The great Gaston de Foix, known as Phoebus, who is 
famed for his book on the chase, expresses his opinion 
that the term garou in loup-garou is an ellipse of the 
phrase gardez-vous. 

When wolves grew scarce in England it became the 
fashion for those who wished to be transformed to change 
into cats, weasels, or harmless hares ; rather a mild 
amusement after the adventuresome exploits of the man- 
attacking beasts of prey, but one which led to some 
extraordinary proceedings akin to black magic. 

In some old French Records the account is given of a 


man who buried a black cat in a box at a spot where four 
cross-roads met. In the box he placed bread soaked in 
holy water and holy oil, sufficient to keep the animal 
alive for three days. His intention was to dig up his 
innocent victim, slay him, and make a girdle of his skin, 
by which means he expected to be able to transform 
himself into an animal and gain the gift of clairvoyance. 
Unfortunately for his projects, however, the buried 
animal was exhumed by hounds. The whole affair 
came to public knowledge and ended in the courts, 
where the guilty man was condemned for sorcery. 

Another man whose friend threw doubts on his power 
to change into animal shape, quickly turned into a wolf 
to prove that his comrade was wrong and, being set upon 
by a pack of dogs, was deprived by them of one eye 
before he could resume his normal appearance. 

A thief acted more cleverly. Being condemned to the 
gibbet, he saved his skin by taking the form of a wolf 
directly his would-be executioners opened the door of 
the cell in which he was imprisoned. During the 
panic of dismay which greeted the sight of him, he 
escaped into the woods. 

One of the most marvellous stories of wer-wolves is 
related by Giraldus Cambrensis in his " Topography of 
Ireland."^ A priest was journeying from Ulster to 
Meath accompanied only by a single youth when they 
were benighted in a wood. 

They had kindled a fire when a huge wolf approached 
them and spoke, telling the travellers to fear nothing. 

The priest adjured him by all that was sacred not to 
do them harm and begged him to say " what creature 
it was that in the shape of a beast uttered human words." 

The story told by the wolf is as follows : — 

" There are two of us, a man and a woman, natives of 
Ossory, who, through the curse of one Natalis, saint and 
abbot, are compelled every seven years to put off their 

^ "The Historical Works of Giraldus Cambrensis," 1863. Bohn's 
Library p. 79 et seq. 


human form and assume that of wolves. At the end of 
seven years, if they chance to survive, two others being 
substituted, they return to their former shape. Now, 
she who is my partner in this visitation Hes dangerously 
sick not far from hence. I beseech you, inspired by divine 
charity, to give her the consolations of your priestly 

The priest followed the mysterious speaker into the 
thicket and performed the rites of the Church over the 
dying she-wolf, as far as the last Communion. But the 
wolf was not satisfied, and begged him to complete his 
good offices. The priest said this was impossible as he 
was not provided with the wherewithal for giving the 
viaticum. Then the man-wolf pointed to the priest's 
neck, suspended round which he carried a missal and 
consecrated wafers, entreating him not to deny the aid 
provided by Divine Providence. To remove the priest's 
doubts he tore off the she-wolf's skin and exposed the 
body of an old woman. The last Communion having 
been given, the wolf replaced the skin and reverently 
thanked the priest for the benefit which he had con- 

These representative incidents go far to show how 
deeply ingrained is the belief in transformation among 
primitive people, but it is necessary to go back still 
further into the origins of folk-lore to discover the bed- 
rock of thought in which the human-animal theory 
takes its rise. 



The animal which savage races take as a symbol of the 
family becomes their totem. Many believe that their 
ancestors were originally animals, fishes, or reptiles, and 
are so accustomed to this idea that transformation 
appears simple and natural to them. They hold that 
the souls of the dead pass into one or another animal 

" Wise people," says the Bhagavad Gita, " see the same 
soul (Atman) in the Brahman, in worms and in insects, 
in the dog and the elephant, in beasts, cows, gadflies, 
and gnats." 

*' Nothing is more strikingly characteristic of primitive 
thinking than the close community of nature which it 
assumes between man and brute," writes Fiske. " The 
doctrine of metempsychosis, which is found in some 
shape or other all over the world, implies a fundamental 
identity between the two ; the Hindu is taught to 
respect the flocks browsing in the meadow, and will on 
no account lift his hand against a cow, for who knows 
but it may be his own grandmother ? "^ 

The primeval worship of ancestors and the savage 
customs of totemism are connected with this belief in 

Primitive man cannot grasp the idea of death as final. 
He believes that the man who has passed away is still 
capable of communicating with the living, and the idea 
of the persistence of the dead is to him the reality. 

^ Fiske, J., " Myths and Myth-makers," 1873, p. 74. 



Even though a dead man has thrown off the body like a 
mask, his appearance remains the same and he is still 
possessed of human powers, perhaps intensified by the 
experience he has undergone. He can show himself 
to his friends, and may do so preferably after night- 
fall. He is then wrapped to some extent in mystery, 
and connected with strange sights, movements, and 

Gifted with new powers he may appear as an animal, 
perhaps in order to harm his enemies or warn people of 
evil. His howling may be heard above the sound of the 
tempest. Perhaps he rides on the night-wind, perhaps he 
comes in the form of a hound, as a messenger of death, 
and bays under the window of the sick a warning that 
death is at hand. Again, he may come as a ravening wolf 
to devour some victim of his greed. Thus the savage 
mind fails to distinguish between the real and the 
imaginative and, basing his beliefs on the stories about 
his own tribal totem, is convinced that his ancestors 
may career about his home in the form of lion, leopard, 
serpent or other tutelary genius. This curious mental 
process expands with what it feeds on until the shade of 
distinction between wolf-like ghosts and corporeal 
human wolves is obliterated and the metempsychosis is 

In " Life Amongst the Modocs,"^ Joaquin Miller tells 
a poetic story of the descent of the Indians from the 
grizzly bear. 

One severe spring-time many thousands of years ago 
there was a storm on the summit of Mount Shasta and 
the Great Spirit sent his fair daughter to speak to the 
storm and bid it stop, but he told her not to look forth 
from the hole in the top of the mountain lest she should 
be caught in the wind and come to disaster. 

Curiosity, however, caused her to forget her father's 
instructions and she put her head out to look at the 
far-distant ocean, white with storm. As she did so the 

1 1873, pp. 242-7. 



wind caught her long red hair and she was blown down 
the mountain-side which was covered with ice and snow, 
so that she slid to the dark belt of firs below the snow 

This district belonged to the grizzly bears. They 
v/ere not really beasts then, but lived in caves, walked 
on two legs, talked and used clubs to fight with, instead 
of their teeth and claws as they do now. An old grizzly 
found the red-haired girl and took her home, where she 
was reared with the bears' offspring. In time she was 
married to the eldest son of the family. Their children 
did not resemble either of their parents exactly, but 
partook somewhat of the nature and likeness of both. 
Thus was the red man created, for these children were 
the first Indians. 

The legend goes on to tell how angry the Great Spirit 
was when he heard what had befallen his daughter and 
that he punished the grizzlies by making them walk on 
all-fours like other beasts, and on account of this legend 
of their origin, the Indians about Mount Shasta never 
kill a bear, and if a bear kills an Indian the latter's body 
is burnt and all who pass the spot cast a stone upon it 
till a large heap is gathered, and Indians will point out 
to this day that bears are more like men than any other 

The members of a totem clan call themselves by the 
name of the totem, and numerous clans are connected 
with various animals, such, for instance, as the Crane 
clan of the Ojibways who think they are descended from 
a pair of cranes which settled near Lake Superior where 
they became transformed by the Great Spirit into a 
man and a woman. The Osages are descended from the 
union between a snail and a beaver. The snail burst 
its shell, grew arms and legs and became a handsome 
human being who wedded a beaver maiden. 

In Bechuanaland when a crocodile clansman sees a 
crocodile he spits on the ground and says, " There is 
sin," for fear the sight should give him inflammation 


of the eyes. Yet the crocodile is his father, and he 
celebrates it at his festivals and marks his cattle with an 
incision in the ear that resembles the mouth of his 
totem animal. 

The inhabitants of the Ellice Island in the South 
Pacific believe the island was first inhabited by the 
porcupine fish, whose offspring became men and women. 
The snake clan among the Moquis of Arizona say they 
are descended from a woman who gave birth to snakes, 
and they indulge in extraordinary snake dances to 
propitiate their tutelary genius. 

In Indonesia many stories are told of women who have 
brought forth animals. Sometimes the woman gives 
birth to twins, one being a human being and one a beast. ^ 
At Balen in New Guinea a native told a missionary that 
his ancestress had given birth to a boy and also to an 
iguana, and since then he had had a great respect for 

The turtle clan of the Iroquois believe themselves to 
be descended from a fat turtle, which, burdened by 
the weight of its shell in walking, threw it off after 
great exertions and developed gradually into a human 
being. ^ 

People of the cray-fish clan of the Choctaws were 
said to have lived originally underground as cray-fish, 
only coming to the surface of the mud occasionally. 
Some kindly Choctaws captured these fish, taught them 
to walk after cutting off their toe-nails and adopted 
them into the tribe. 

The Masai race in Uganda have a theory that some of 
their ancestors return to earth after death in the shape 
of serpents, generally pythons or cobras, and when a 
Masai marries, he introduces his wife to the tutelary 
snake of the tribe, and she is told to recognise it and 
never harm it. The fetish snake is often consulted by 
people in trouble, because they think they will get 

1 Frazer, " Totemism," Vol. II, p. 58. 

2 Ibid., Vol. I, p. 5. 


valuable advice based on the experience of their an- 

The people of Miri believe themselves to be related 
to large deer, and suppose that their dead relatives 
become deer. The Bakongs, another group of Moham- 
medan Malasians, believe their friends become bear-cats 
after death. The Papuans of New Guinea hold that 
at death souls of human beings pass into animals such 
as cassowaries, fish, or pigs. They do not eat these 
sacred creatures, which are taboo. 

The taboos include all animals which must not be 
killed. They enjoy local sanctity, and are never eaten 
or even touched. Taboo animals are thought to give 
favourable and unfavourable omens. Death is some- 
times foretold by their means. 

These instances of the supposed connection between 
savage races and certain animals might be multiplied a 
hundredfold, and they lead to interesting developments 
of the transformation theory. 

The belief that beasts are the dwelling-places of the 
souls of depraved men is a variation of the idea that 
depraved men were inhabited by demons. 

In Australia and America it is customary for savages 
to have what is called " a medicine animal," something 
in the nature of a tutelary genius or second soul. The 
natives of Central America call this animal nagual, the 
Algonquins manitoUy the Eskimo tornaq, and amongst 
the last-named people it is usually a bear. Others call it 
simply the bush-soul. 

The young Tinkhlet Indian goes out hunting the 
otter, and when he has killed his prey he cuts out its 
tongue, which he uses as a charm, wearing it round his 
neck and believing that he now understands the language 
of all animals. In other races various animals are killed 
in order that part of their body may be used as a talis- 
man. A nagual may be obtained in other ways, perhaps 

^ " The Uganda Protectorate," by Sir Harry Johnston, 1902, Vol. II, 
p. 832. 


through dreaming of the right animal, or by having 
it chosen by the magician of the tribe. It then becomes 
sacred, and should it die the man dies too. 

The West African negroes believe that a man can have 
as many as four souls, one of which lives in animal form 
out in the bush, and is then called his bush-soul. If 
this animal soul is trapped or shot, the man himself 
dies. Nor will a native kill his bush-soul, for this would 
surely be the cause of his own end. Bush-souls are 
often regarded as an hereditary possession, generally 
passing from father to son and from mother to daughter. 
Among many primitive peoples the belief exists that 
the human being can and does actually change into this 
tutelary animal genius. In Iceland, for instance, it is 
believed that various members of a family have a kind of 
animal double csilledfylgja, in the shape of a dog or bird. 

The Yakuts of Siberia believe that every wizard has 
one of his souls incarnate in an animal. " Nobody can 
find my external soul," said one famous wizard, " it 
lies hidden far away in the stony mountains of Edzhi- 
gansk." Once a year at the melting of the snow, these 
souls appear amongst the dwellings of men in the shape 
of animals, invisible to all but the wizards themselves. 
Strong ones hurry about noisily, but the weak ones 
move furtively as though afraid. Sometimes they fight, 
and the sorcerer whose soul is worsted in the battle falls 
ill and may even die. The souls of cowardly wizards 
are in the form of dogs, and they give their human 
double no peace, but gnaw at his heart and tear his 
body. Powerful wizards have souls incarnate in stallions, 
elks, boars, eagles, and black bears. 

The Samoyeds in the Turukhinsk region believe that 
sorcerers have a familiar in the shape of a boar, and that 
they lead him by a magic belt. If the boar dies the 
sorcerer too must die. Sometimes battles occur between 
sorcerers who send forth their familiars to encounter 
one another before they themselves meet in the flesh. 

The Melanesians of Mota in the New Hebrides, call 


the soul the atai^ and they believe that every person has 
a second self which is visible and is, in fact, the reflection 
in animal form of his own personality. He and his atai 
would rejoice or grieve, live and die together. 

Some of the Melanesians also believe that they have 
special relation to some animal or reptile with which 
their life is bound up and which is named tamaniu. The 
tamaniu^ like the atai^ has an objective and material 

When its owner wishes to injure anyone he sends his 
familiar to do so ; if an eel it would tear or bite, if a 
shark probably swallow him. If the owner falls ill, he 
examines his familiar to discover what is wrong. The 
imps or familiars of witches embody the same idea. 

Dr. W. H. R. Rivers quotes the case of a man whose 
tamaniu was a lizard.^ The owner was blind and asked 
a friend to help him with the ceremony of examination. 
He told his friend to go and see the animal, using the 
words " Look at me," referring to the lizard as himself. 
The man went alone to the banyan tree where the 
lizard was to be found, but when he came there he was 
too frightened to call upon the animal. He was sent a 
second time in the company of the sick man's son and 
others, and when they reached the tree the man called 
out the lizard's name, Rosasangwowut, and the tamaniu 
appeared. It was a very large animal, larger than the 
ordinary lizards in Mota. It appeared to be sluggish 
and walked as a sick man would walk. The blind man's 
son then asked the tamaniu if it was ill and the creature 
nodded its head and moved slowly back to the tree. 
They went back and told the man that his familiar 
was ill, and soon afterwards he died. At the same time 
the banyan tree fell, which was taken as a sign that the 
tamaniu died too. This is an uncanny story which brings 
out strongly the psychic connection between the man 
and his representative animal. 

^ " Totemism in Polynesia and Melanesia " in " Journal of the Royal 
Anthropological Institute," 1909, Vol. XXXIX, p. 177. 


In Melanesia a native doctor was once attending a 
patient when a large eagle hawk soared past the house 
and a hunter was about to shoot it when the doctor 
called out in alarm, " Don't fire, that is my spirit ! If 
you kill it I shall die." He also said, " If you see a rat 
to-night, don't drive it away, it's my spirit, or a snake 
may come to-night, which will be my spirit." Ap- 
parently the doctor had the power to send his familiar 
in animal form for the purpose of working a cure. 

At Ongek in the Gaboon a French missionary spent 
the night in the hut of a Fan chief. He was awakened 
before daylight by the rustling of dry leaves and, lighting 
a torch, perceived a huge black poisonous serpent, 
coiled and ready to strike. He was about to shoot the 
horrible reptile when his arm was suddenly struck up 
by the chief, who, extinguishing the torch, cried, " Don't 
fire, I beg of you. In killing the snake you would kill 
me. That serpent is my elangela. Fear nothing ! " 
Speaking thus he seized and caressed the noisome reptile, 
which showed emotions of delight rather than fear or 
anger. Then the chief bore away his serpent and laid 
it in another hut, lying down beside it, after exhorting 
the missionary never to speak of what he had seen.^ 

From this occurrence it will easily be gathered that it 
is highly dangerous to kill a tamaniu^ nagual, or manitou. 

The possibility of the soul existing temporarily apart 
from the body is believed by most savages, and civilised 
races, such as the Romans, have held identical ideas. 
" The nagual,'^ writes W. Northcote Thomas in his 
valuable article on Animals, ^ "is the lineal ancestor of 
the genius of the Romans, no less than of the guides of 
modern spiritualism." This statement gives ample 
food for thought. 

1 Frazer, "Golden Bough," "Balder the Beautiful," 1913, Vol. II, 
p. 200, etc. 

2 Hastings' " Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics," 1908, Vol. I. 



At all periods of the world's history and in every 
country people have believed in the " external soul " of 
a man appearing in animal form. For instance, in the 
island of Florida the natives tell the story of an alligator 
which used to come out of the sea and visit the village 
in which the man whose ghost it was had dwelt. It 
was known by his name and was on friendly terms with 
the natives, allowing children to ride on its back.^ 

In Syria there are stories of girls being carried off 
by bears and giving birth to human-animal offspring. 
The Creeks believe the offspring to be bears which 
later turn into men. Japan is famous for its white 
bear-god and the Tartars believe that earth spirits 
take the form of bears. 

The Gilyaks believe that if one of their race is killed 
by a bear, his soul transmigrates into the animal's body. 
Californian Indians have been heard to plead hard for 
the life of a she-bear. They said its wrinkled face was 
like the withered features of a dead grandmother whose 
soul had entered into the animal. 

One of the Omaha clans believe they are descended 
from bison and the males wear their hair in imitation of 
the animal which is their totem. 

The Ewe negroes of Togoland ascribe to the souls of 
buffaloes and leopards the power of killing the hunter 
who slew them, or of misleading him in the chase so 

1 Frazer, J. G., " The Golden Bough," " Spirits of the Corn and of 
the Wild," 1912, Vol. II, p. 297. See also " Balder the Beautiful," 
1913, Vol. II, pp. 196-218, "The External Soul in Animals." 



that he confuses men with animals and gets into diffi- 
culties from being accused of murdering the former. 
The souls of these dangerous animals are thought to 
haunt and plague the hunter, perhaps by making him 
crazy, so that when he finds his way back into the town 
he loses all his property and is sold into slavery. A quaint 
ceremony is performed to prevent such power emanating 
from the dead prey. 

The Baganda natives are in deadly terror of the ghosts 
of the buffaloes they have killed, believing that they 
may work harm to them. 

The crocodile especially has played a large part in 
these beliefs about human and ghostly animals. 

Natives in Simbang, in German New Guinea, are con- 
vinced that their relatives turn into crocodiles, and they 
recognise a certain crocodile known by the name of 
" Old Butong " as head of the family. They say he was 
born of a w^oman. Mary Kingsley tells a similar story 
in her " Travels in West Africa," describing human 
beings, who, disguised as alligators, swim in the creeks, 
attack the canoes and carry off the crew. The natives 
believe in the spirit of the man actually possessing the 
animal's body. 

In New Guinea and the East Indies as well as in West 
Africa crocodiles are thought to be the abodes of the 
souls of ancestors, and the victim of this dangerous 
reptile is said to have incurred the vengeance of some 
human being who has taken the form of the animal, 
while those who kill crocodiles become themselves 
transformed after death. Spenser's " cruell craftie 
crocodile " was held to be sacred in Egypt, and the god 
Sebek was said to take its shape whenever he so desired. 

The Malagasy view is that the crocodile is the ally 
of a magician during his lifetime, and that he can send 
him forth as a familiar to wreak harm upon his enemies. 

The alligator is closely allied to the crocodile. Among 
the legends of the Arawak Indians of British Guiana is 
one about a half human beast of this species which 


received its extraordinary markings in the following 
manner: Arawadi, the sun-god, coming to earth saw an 
alligator disporting himself on the banks of a stream 
which he had preserved specially for fish. To get rid of 
the enemy he seized and smote him with a hard club 
upon the head and tail, but the alligator, crying out to 
him to stay his hand, promised in return for clemency a 
beauteous water-sprite to be his bride. Arawadi agreed 
to the proposal. 

" The reptile's wounds were healed. Those blows 
No more his hide assail ; 
But still their marks are seen, 'tis said, 
Indented on his battered head 
And notched along his tail ! " 

The domestic animals, bulls, cows, horses, asses, cats, 
and dogs, have been regarded at one time or another as 
gifted with human powers, or as suitable vehicles for 
the reception of human souls. The Tlaxcallans believe 
that man can be transformed into a dog. The wild dog, 
the coyote, according to the ideas of the Navajos, may be 
a bad man transformed at death for his sins. 

Armenians sacrifice an ass at the graves of people who 
owe them money, their belief being that if payment is 
not forthcoming the ancestor's souls will enter asses' 

The Corn Spirit is supposed to take the form of a cat, 
and in some places in Germany children have been 
warned not to go into the corn-fields because " The 
cat sits there." In Silesia the reaper who cuts the last 
corn is called the " Tom-cat " and is dressed up in rye- 
stalks, wearing a long plaited tail. Sometimes another 
man accompanies him called " the female cat." 

The Lapps of the North Cape are said to consult a 
black cat when in trouble, and they regard it more as a 
human being than as an animal. 

The cat is among the soul-animals familiar to the 
inhabitants of the British Islands, who, owing to this 


country's immunity from wild beasts, are satisfied to 
" humanise " the milder species of creatures such as the 
ant, butterfly, gull, moth, sparrow, and swan. 

In the parish of Ballymoyer in Ireland butterflies are 
said to be the souls of grandfathers, whilst the Malagasy 
trace their descent from a moth, believing that a man 
was changed into a moth when he died. Many races 
believe that moths and butterflies are the souls of the 

In the Solomon Islands, if a native declared he in- 
tended to transmigrate into a butterfly, his children, on 
seeing one of these insects would cry " That is Daddy " 
and make some suitable offering of food. Witches have 
been known to have butterflies and moths as familiars. 

In Cornwall ants are thought to be the souls of children 
who died without baptism. Hindus also associate this 
insect with the souls of the dead, and natives of New 
Guinea believe that a second death occurs after the first 
and that the soul is transformed into an ant. 

The Athabascan Dog-Ribs believe that an ant in- 
serted beneath the skin of the palm endows the owner 
of the hand with the gift of prophecy. 

The Sudanese think that a wer-man has to approach 
an ants' nest before being transformed into a hyaena. 

Besides the ant the bat is regarded as a mysterious 
creature, and this form was frequently assumed by 
Chamalcan, god of the Cakchiquels. Large bats abound 
in an island on the Ivory Coast in West Africa and are 
regarded as embodying the souls of the dead. In Tonga 
the same superstition holds good. Bats and birds appear 
so similar when flying at dusk that it is natural to find 
that birds also are often the form in which human 
spirits take wing. 

The Warrar races of Guiana have a very poetical 
belief about the spirits of the departed. They visit 
the fair isle of Trinidad, 

" Where souls of good men they could find, 
In glittering humming-biids confined." 


The Arawaks believe that vultures belong to a race 
which lives in a country above the sky. When at home 
the vultures cease to be birds and assume the shape 
and habits of human beings. 

The Kahtas hold that when a man dies his soul is 
carried to spirit-land by a little bird, and if he has been 
an evil-doer during his lifetime, a hawk overtakes and 
swallows the bird. 

In County Mayo swans are the souls of virgins who 
have been remarkable for the purity of their lives. This 
idea is as beautiful as the Bohemian tradition that 
children hop about the meadows in the form of frogs 
is quaint. 

An old Hindu story that monkeys were originally men 
has a distinctly comic side to it. They contracted debts 
and when called upon to pay fled from their creditors 
by changing into monkeys and putting their tails between 
their legs. In this undignified position they made off 
at full speed into the jungle. 

The stories of human souls in various animal bodies 
would fill a volume, and perhaps one of the most pic- 
turesque ideas of the kind is that of the Cornish fisher- 
folk who say they see the spirits of their drowning 
companions transformed into animal shapes as they pass 
away from this earth. 



The ceremonial dances and festivals of primitive races 
in which animal masks and skins are used are closely 
connected with the idea of ancestor worship and with 
transformation. After careful study of the subject it 
will be regarded as certain that the performers, by 
means of mimic action, rhythmic and imitative sounds, 
as well as by narcotic drugs and pungent or penetrating 
perfumes, induce in themselves an hypnotic or excited 
state in which they believe they change into the actual 
animal they represent. 

Some of the dances are infinitely elaborate in detail, 
and are so complicated in their various figures and their 
symbolic intention that primitive ideas are almost lost 
sight of, but a certain fundamental similarity can be 
found in them all which is based on root ideas of animal 
worship, the desire to propitiate animals in the chase, 
the belief in animal gods, or spirits of ancestors appearing 
in animal form and the desire to bring about, by sacrifice 
and offering, the fertility of the species. 

Such exercises are both religious and magical, to 
secure charms against bodily ills, and for good hunting 
as well as for recreation. In special family dances the 
performers mimic the actions and cries of their totemic 

In its most primitive form the animal disguise was 
used by savages when acting in the capacity of a decoy, 
with the object of securing food and clothing. The 
early Indian when trapping buffalo went forth carrying 



a dress made of the skin of a buffalo, wearing its head 
and horns over his own head. As soon as he had induced 
the herd to pursue him, he led them into a trap or 
ambush, or over a precipice which was fatal to many 
of them. 

The Eskimo, when hunting the seal, wears a sealskin 
garment which makes him look so much like his prey 
that at a distance he is only distinguished from it with 
difficulty. When close to the animal he utters sounds 
like those of a blowing seal. 

Also when hunting deer he imitates their grunt, and 
two hunters on the same track carry guns on their 
shoulders to resemble the animal's antlers. Zuni hunters 
after deer wear cotton shirts with the sleeves rolled up 
to the elbow, the back and front of the shirt being 
coloured so as to represent the animal's body, the arms 
stained to represent the deer's forelegs. Head and 
antlers are carried on the shoulders, and the stalkers 
approach the game, browsing as they go. 

Out of the simple imitation of animal motions and 
cries for the purpose of decoy, the dance grew more 
complicated, with wild whirling figures and elaborate 
dresses and masks. From a useful and necessary disguise 
for purposes of obtaining food, the wolf-robe and mask 
became, in unscrupulous hands, an instrument for 
personal aggrandisement and gain through intimidation. 
The hideous animal-mask was first used as a shield or 
protection for the face in defence against the onslaught 
upon an opposing force. Then it became an instrument 
with which to inspire terror and fear in those who 
beheld it from the point of view of its ugliness or fright- 
fulness, and finally it was worn as a device or symbol 
of superhuman agencies. At this stage it formed an 
integral part of the paraphernalia used in religious per- 
formances, and when worn during ceremonial the 
wearer became imbued in some mysterious manner 
with the spirit of the being represented by the mask. 

To gain the characteristics of an animal a wizard 


attached crow and owl plumes to his head, that he might 
have the eyes of a crow and quickly become aware o£ 
the approach of man, or of the owl that he might travel 
by night. 

A Zuni man, hearing the hoot of an owl, yet recog- 
nising it as human, discovered one of his own race 
hidden in the thicket. '' Ah," he cried, " why do you 
wear those plumes upon your head ? Aha ! you must 
be a wizard ! " 

The Omaha coyote dance is performed by warriors 
to keep up their spirits. Each dancer wears an animal 
skin, and imitates the action of a coyote, trotting and 
glancing round. In dance and song the performers 
imagine themselves to be transformed into the animal. 
In the Omaha buffalo dance, four men are attired in 
great shaggy skins, the horns above their heads and the 
hair hanging down below the chest. Other dances are 
in imitation of wolves, grizzly bears, horses or tigers. 

Pawnees dance the bison dance in war habit and with 
bison skins and horns over their heads. The Creeks 
dance similarly, uttering sounds in imitation of the 
bison, their bodies bent almost double and two staffs 
being held to represent the animal's forelegs. 

The initiation day has at its root the idea of trans- 
forming the man into a member of the kin by giving 
him a share of the nature of the animal. Dances may 
give magical power over the animal to be chased, and 
are performed before a hunting expedition. In the 
dance the animal goes down before the onslaught of 
the hunter, and so the real animal, it is hoped, will fall 
a victim to his weapons. Dances after hunting are of a 
protective nature, so that the soul of the slaughtered 
animal may have no evil effect upon the slayer. Another 
form of animal dance is performed with a view to in- 
crease the number of animals. Among the Mandan 
Indians, for instance, an animal festival is held, at which 
a man, painted black to represent the evil one, enters a 
village from the prairie, chases and terrifies the women 


and acts the part of a buffalo in a dance which is intended 
to ensure a good supply of this valuable animal during 
the year to come. Other American tribes have a similar 
masquerade, in which males, dressed in buffalo skins, 
take the part of male buffaloes and the females personify 
the female animals, with a view to bringing about an 
increase of the species. 

Legendary animals, or spirits, are also represented in 
the elaborate masked pantomimes of the Indian tribes 
in North West America. The explanation given by the 
natives is that the ceremonial was instituted in ancient 
days when man had still the form of an animal ; and 
before the great transformer had given him a distinctive 
shape. This ceremonial, performed by man-animals, is 
a dramatised form of myth, in which the actors attempt to 
reproduce certain trance-states by sympathetic mimicry. 

The Eskimos of Bering Strait perform remarkable 
dances in which curious mythological beasts, said to 
inhabit sea and land, become visible and occasionally 
play a part. Strange forms, probably of known animals 
modified and adapted, are conjured to appear. The 
dance is based on the old belief that in the early days all 
animate beings had a dual existence, choosing to be 
men or animals as the will prompted them. If an 
animal wished to be transformed into a man, the body 
was drawn erect and the foreleg or wing was raised so 
that it pushed up the jowl or beak, and thus changed 
the form and features into something more manlike. 
It is still believed by these races that animals have this 
power, and the form taken is called inua and represents 
the psychical part of the creature, at death appearing 
as its shade. The wizards are said to have the power of 
piercing the animal mask and recognising the human 
features it conceals. 

Masks may also represent totemic animals, and the 
dancers are then transformed into these special creatures, 
or at least are moved by their spiritual essence. 

Some of these masks are made with double faces, so 


that the muzzle of the animal fits over and conceals the 
face of the i7iua and the outer mask is hinged on or held 
in place by pegs so that it may be removed at any minute. 
The psychological moment when actual transformation 
occurs is symbolised at a particular part of the ceremony. 

The wearer of the mask then becomes imbued with 
the true spirit of the animal represented, and the dance 
turns into a species of thanksgiving for the hunter's 

Dancing is sometimes used as a form of exorcism. 

In Abyssinia a disorder similar to that of being pos- 
sessed by a bouda, or sorcerer, is called tigritiya, and is a 
supposed possession by the devil in which the victim, 
who is generally a woman, believes that she has been 
transformed into an animal. Whatever the patient 
demands must be procured, for else she becomes sulky 
and, covering up her head, remains for days without 
eating or speaking. Since the symptoms always include 
the wasting away of the attacked person, this state is 
very dangerous. 

Ornaments of all kinds have to be borrowed in answer 
to her lightest whim. She asks for the lion's skin worn 
by a warrior, his silver ornaments, or other valuable 
articles difficult to procure. In some cases music is 
used as a means of charming aw^ay the tigritiya. Drums 
and other instruments strike up and the patient moves her 
body in time to the music and gradually increases her 
energy until the pace is furious and her motions so 
violent that it seems likely she will dislocate her limbs, 
if not her neck. Having lain on a bed of sickness, re- 
duced to a mere bag of bones, such fatiguing exercises 
appear uncanny, but it is on this dancing and on her 
incantations that the ejection of the evil spirit depends. 

Some of the dances imitate the antics of bush-hogs 
and other animals desirous of fun rather than of injury 

^ See E. W. Nelson's " The Eskimo about Bering Strait," in 
" Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology," 
1899, Part II, p. 394 et seq. 


to human beings. In one of the Acawoio dances, each 
dancer has a kind of trumpet to which a rudely carved 
figure of some animal or reptile is fixed, and he imper- 
sonates this animal for the time being.^ 

Musical instruments used in the dances are frequently 
made of animal skins, and the Indians attribute special 
virtues to the wolf-skin. 

It is said that a tom-tom or drum made of this animal's 
skin can silence any similar instrument made of sheep's 
skin from which no man can emit a sound while the wolf- 
skin vibrates. 

Real animals often play a part in the ceremonial, 
especially snakes in the serpent dances and sacred animals 
in such dances as are dedicated to their worship. 

In China a big dog is dressed up like a man and is 
carried round in a palanquin to break up a drought. 

Masks and animal skins worn at dances are, of course, 
not confined to the use of primitive races, but have been 
employed since ancient days in every kind of masque, 
dance, and pantomime. Much might be written on their 
symbolic meaning, and attention may be drawn to the 
special instance of the festa asinaria of mediaeval days 
at which dancers wore the heads of asses. 

Besides the masks and animal skins, ordinary clothing 
was often made to represent special animals. For 
instance, at Athens, Artemis was worshipped in cere- 
monies at which young maidens attired in saffron gowns 
danced a particular movement and were called " bears." 

The Royal family of Dahomey worship the leopard, 
and some of the king's wives are distinguished by the 
title of " leopard wives " and wear striped cloths to 
resemble the 

Many savages paint a rude picture of the animal they 
represent upon the clothes worn, and this is a special 
feature of some of the extraordinary snake dancers, 
especially amongst the Moquis. 

These dances as well as those of the Hopis are expres- 

1 Brett, W. H., " The Indian Tribes of Guiana," 1868, pp. 374-5. 


sions of clan totemism rather than of snake worship. 
Several figures in the Maya codices represent human 
beings, evidently personifying deities and wearing the 
symbolic masks of animal gods. One of the human 
figures in the Codex Cortesianus wears the mask of a 
snake. The Hopi usually carries only the head of the 
animal personified, but the Mexican dresses in the 
skin. In some examples the head-dress is most elaborate, 
the head being painted green, with open mouth and 
red lips dotted with black, two pendant white, tooth- 
shaped projections hanging from the upper jaw. From 
the mouth a red tongue lolls. The eye is oval, with 
curved lines drawn upon the pupil, and the whole is 
capped by a crescentic figure towering above the head. 
Three triangular-shaped plumes extend from the cap, 
and over the nose a red-coloured flap hangs. Though 
usually green, the heads are sometimes painted white 
or brown, but none is red or yellow. In the Hopi 
folk-tales it is said that the waters of the world come 
from the breasts of the great snake, and sometimes a 
female figure, bearing a snake as a head-dress, is sym- 
bolised with water flowing from her breasts. Another 
symbolic figure has a snake's body with curious markings 
and a head practically drawn in identical lines with 
that of a human being. No doubt this represents a 
man transformed into, or personifying, a snake. At 
any rate, he wears the mask and represents the feathered 
snake ceremonially. 

A number of animals are represented in Tusayan 
ceremonials and are then called Katdnas, which means 
the supernatural being personified, as well as the dance 
or act of personification. Besides the coyote, the wolf, 
the cougar, the bear, the antelope, and the badger, 
which figure largely among the supernatural beings 
found in the Sia ritual, the hawk, the man eagle, the 
bee, butterfly, mountain sheep, and owl all play an 
important part in Tusayan ceremonial. No women 
wear Katcina masks in a Hopi ceremony, the female 


Katcinas being invariably represented by men. The 
masked dances amongst the Pueblos, in which animal 
personifications take place and masks are worn, are 
called Katcina dances. They take place between January 
and August.^ 

The following strange ceremony is practised by 
Mexicans and is not unlike the Hopi snake dance. It 
is celebrated once in every eight years about October or 

After fasting for some days, says one who has seen 
the dance, the natives disguised themselves in all manner 
of animal and bird dresses, and came up dancing to the 
chosen spot where the rain-god had been placed before 
a pool of water in which live snakes and frogs were 
swimming. The Macateca, which may be rendered 
" those from Deerland," then seized upon the wriggling 
reptiles with the mouth, never touching them with 
the hand, and attempted to swallow them alive, dancing 
all the time. He who managed to swallow the first 
snake cried out, " papa, papa " and danced round about 
the temple. After two days of these extraordinary 
exertions a procession was formed and all marched slowly 
four times round the temple. Then came a feast of 
fruit and pastry which had been placed ready in baskets 
for the purpose, and the ceremonial was ended. The 
old men and women present, knowing that there would 
be no repetition of the dance for eight years, wept 
bitterly at the close of the performance. 

In a festival in vogue among the Cholutecas, a slave of 
good figure, and no personal blemish, is dressed for 
forty days in the same animal skin and mask which 
represent the special god to be personified. 

The dresses of the Moquis during their serpent dances 
are fashioned of painted cotton kilts, of a reddish- 
yellow colour, decorated with narrow bands of yellow 
and green, and bordered by a narrow black stripe. At 

^ See Fewkes, J. W., "Comparison of Sia and Tusayan Snake Cere- 
monials " and other tracts. 


the bottom is a fringe of small bells of lead or tin. A 
snake is painted in the folds of the kilt, covered with 
white spots and bordered by narrow white lines. The 
arms and legs of the dancers are naked, but dangling 
to their heels behind they wear skins of the fox or 

Marching solemnly round a sacred stone, they begin 
by shaking rattles and waving snake-wands to which 
eagle feathers are attached. After some chanting, a 
number of women, dressed in white and red mantles, 
come forward and scatter corn-meal from baskets with 
which they are provided. Presently the head priest, 
followed by a number of male performers, marching 
two and two, come forward towards the sacred rock, 
carrying live snakes in their mouths and hands. Some 
of the Indians tickle the heads, necks, and jaws of the 
wriggling serpents to distract their attention from those 
who are grasping their bodies firmly between their 

When the snake-carriers reach the further end of 
the space cleared for the dance they spit the snakes 
out upon the ground and, facing the sacred rock, stamp 
the left foot twice, giving forth strange sounds, half 
grunt, half wail. 

For nearly an hour this mad dance of wriggling snakes, 
rushing figures, and clouds of whirling corn-meal con- 
tinues and then the snakes are released, the symbolic 
dance is over and the performers resume their ordinary 
clothes and, presumably, their natural human pro- 
clivities. The origin of this dance lies in the belief 
that the Moquis are descended from snakes and is told 
thus by the natives : — 

" Many years ago the Moquis used to live on the 
other side of a high mountain beyond the San Juan 
River in Colorado. The chief thought he would take a 
trip down the big river, so he made himself a boat of a 
hollow Cottonwood log, took some provisions and started 
down. The stream carried him to the sea-shore, where 


he found some shells. When he arrived on the beach 
he saw a number of houses on the cliff in which lived 
many men and women who had vv^hite under their eyes, 
and below that a white mark on their cheeks. That 
night he took one of the women as his wife. Shortly 
after his return the woman gave birth to snakes, and this 
was the origin of the snake family or clan which manages 
the dance. When she gave birth to these snakes they 
bit a number of the children of the Moquis. The Moquis 
then moved in a body to their present villages and they 
have this dance to conciliate the snakes so they won't bite 
their children."^ 

Snake worship and ancestor or spirit worship seems 
here combined in the same rite, and the Moquis evi- 
dently believe in the transmigration of souls. The 
dancers belong to a Secret Society, a sort of Serpent 

The peculiar qualities said to distinguish departed 
relatives, reappearing in the form of snakes, from the 
ordinary reptiles are that they will frequent the huts, 
never eat mice and show no fear of man. " Some- 
times," says Sir John Lubbock in his " Origin of Civilisa- 
tion,"^ " a snake is recognised as the representative of a 
given man by some peculiar mark or scar, the absence 
of an eye, or some similar point of resemblance." 

The noiseless movement and the rapid action of the 
serpent, combined with its fascinating gaze and magnetic 
power, no doubt lead savages to view it as a possessor of 
wisdom and embodiment of spirits. 

The Kobena and other Indians of Brazil perform 
masked dances in honour of their dead. They have a 
butterfly dance in which two performers represent 
large blue butterflies fluttering in the sunshine. Darting 
swallows are also mimicked by masked dancers, as well 
as vultures, owls, fish, jaguars, and, curiously enough, 
the sloth, in which dance a man hangs for a long time 

1 Bourke, J. G., " The Snake-Dance of the Moquis of Arizona," 1884, 
p. 177. ^ p. 180. 


to the bough of a tree or the cross-beam of a hut. Another 

mSd l'""' '''\'^-^^y dance, b which „Tol 
masted men make the air dark with their antics. 

formnli"'" performances are based on certain magical 

beneath hist 7''^^ ^^'"- P^™^^^^^ '^' dancer, 
a mSw 1 niask and for the time being he has become 



In remote ages man and animal were closely bound by a 
thousand ties. Under barbaric conditions human beings 
and animals lived, as it were, in touch with one another, 
they were next-door neighbours in the primeval forests, 
their necessities were the same to a large extent and 
their tastes did not widely differ. Both were actuated 
by the need of shelter, food, and protection against 
enemies. Is it surprising, then, that primitive man was 
closely allied to his less intelligent brothers, and that he 
believed them to be endowed with feelings and desires 
akin to his own ? 

Owing to his powers of mental growth, however, it 
was not long before man's instincts developed above 
those of the beasts. He was still, in reality, a savage 
animal, but he had more skill and ingenuity in the art 
of killing, as soon as he began to realise that a stick, a 
stone, or other weapons could be used to beat out the 
life of other animals. 

Gradually he found out that he possessed higher 
qualities on the mental plane, and that he had the 
power of conscious spiritual development which was 
apparently denied to brute creatures. 

Many writers have endeavoured to formulate the 
great kinship which exists amongst all created beings 
in this particular aspect of the evolution of soul. 

" There is not any matter, nor any spirit, nor any 

creature, but it is capable of a unity of some kind with 

other creatures," writes Ruskin;^ "and in that unity 

^ Ruskin, " Frondes Agrestes," 1899, pp. 146-9. 



is its perfection and theirs, and a pleasure also for the 
beholding of all other creatures that can behold. So 
the unity of spirits is partly in their sympathy and 
partly in their giving and taking, and always in their 
love ; and these are their delight and their strength ; 
for their strength is their co-working and army fellow- 
ship, and their delight is in their giving and receiving 
of alternate and perpetual good ; their inseparable 
dependancy on each other's being, and their essential 
and perfect depending on their Creator's." 

'' Let us label beings by what they are," says a more 
modern writer,^ " by the souls that are in them and the 
deeds they do — not by their colour, which is pigment, 
nor by their composition, which is clay. There are 
philanthropists in feathers and patricians in fur, just 
as there are cannibals in the pulpit and saurians among 
the money-changers." 

The great seer. Prentice Mulford, believed that the 
spirit of an animal could actually be re-embodied in a 
man or woman, and he thought that its prominent 
characteristics would appear in that man or woman. 
The mother might attract to her the spirit of some more 
intelligent or highly developed savage animal. That 
spirit would then lose its identity as a quadruped and 
reappear in the body of the new-born child. 

*' Remember," he writes, " that as to size and shape 
the spirit of a horse need not be like the horse materialised 
in flesh and blood. Spirit takes hold of a mass of matter 
and holds that matter in accordance with its ruling 
desire and the amount of its intelligence. An anaconda 
is but the faint spark of intelligence only awakened 
into desire to swallow and digest. Such low forms of 
life as the reptile or fish have not even awakened into 
affection for their young. The reptile, as to spirit or 
intellect, is but a remove from the vegetable. Trees 
have life of their own ; they are gregarious, and grow 
in communities. The spirit of the old tree reanimates 

1 Moore, T. H., " The Universal Kinship," 1906, pp. 233-4. 


the new one. There is in the vegetable kingdom the 
unconscious desire for refinement, for better forms of 
Hfe. For this reason is the entire vegetable kingdom of 
a finer type than ages ago, when the world's trees and 
plants, though immense in size, were coarse in fibre and 
in correspondence with the animal life about them." 

The true evolution, then, is that of spirit, taking on 
itself through successive ages many re-embodiments and 
adding to itself some new quality with each re-embodi- 

The survival of the fittest implies that the best 
qualities so gathered do survive. The lower, coarse and 
more savage are gradually sloughed off. The best 
qualities in all animal forms of life eventually are gathered 
in a man. He has so gained or absorbed into himself 
courage from the lion, cunning from the fox, rapacious- 
ness from vulture and eagle. You often see the eagle 
or vulture beak on one person's face, the bulldog on 
that of another, the wolf, the fox, and so on. Faces 
hang out no false sign of the character of the spirit. 
Man, unconsciously recognising this, uses the terms 
" foxy," " wolfish," " snaky," and even " hoggish," in 
describing the character of certain individuals.^ 

Most people are able to find physical similarities 
between human beings and animals. The equine man 
who moves his ears is not rarely to be met with. The 
person who uncovers his canine teeth in a snarl is an 
even more common type. Short women who flap their 
arms and waddle in the style of penguins ; tall ones who 
have the graceful sliding movement of the giraffe ; persons 
of either sex who jerk along with hops like feathered 
creatures on a lawn are all to be met with any day. 

Mrs. Heron stalks in with solemnity and stateliness, 
and cranes her neck to find something she has mislaid. 
She has a prying face, sharp nose, and small projecting 

1 Mulford, Prentice, " The Gift of the Spirit," 1904. " Re-embodi- 
ment Universal in Nature," pp. 170-1. 


Lion faces, tiger faces, cat faces, fox faces, fish faces, 
bird faces, sheep faces, and rat faces meet us at every 

Sheep men are mild in appearance, beaming with 
amiabihty, truthfulness, and freedom from cant. Ox 
faces are more robust, with wider and broader features, 
and a certain flatness of face. People of this appearance 
have good dispositions, good appetite, are stubborn in 
bargains perhaps, but reliable and trustworthy. 

Hercules was depicted with a powerful neck, a small 
head, short and curly hair, which bore a striking resem- 
blance to a vigorous and untamable bull, whilst Herod 
was like a fox, with thin face, cunning eye, restless 
head and neck, artful and deceptive with highly strung 

The weasel man is thin, tall, sharp-eyed, always in a 
hurry, and the nose that augurs badly is that which is 
strikingly similar to the beak of a parrot. The parrot- 
man is filled with a sense of his own importance and is 
an endless prattler. Those who have a high and narrow 
forehead and a nose that terminates like the beak of a 
crow are sure to be subject to vile passions. 

Beaumarchais said wittily, " Boire sans soif et faire 
I'amour en tout temps, c'est ce que distingue I'homme de 
la bete." 

Artists, too, have attempted to depict the animal 
spirit that dwells in human beings. Sir Joshua Reynolds 
painted two portraits of young girls, one holding a 
cage with a mouse in it, the other a kitten. The former is 
called Muscipula,^ the latter Felina, and it may be 
surmised that he intended to show in their features 
the imitative sympathy young children have with young 
animals, for Muscipula's expression is that of the mouse. 

Charles Le Brun, the artist, worked out the same idea 
in a less symbolic and more practical manner, from the 
physiognomical aspect, in his series of drawings illustra- 
tive of the relation between human physiognomy and 
^ The original painting is at Holland House. 


brute creation which depict man's features transformed 
in many animal countenances. 

" Man is a talkative and religious ape," says J. Howard 
Moore in " The Universal Kinship,"^ and goes on to 
point out that while man has expressed his opinion about 
animals constantly, he has never had the opportunity 
of hearing what animals have to say about human beings. 
Although we know what a lion looks like when painted 
by a man, " human eyes have never yet been illumined 
by the sardonic lineaments of a man painted by a lion."^ 

Emerson expressed something of the same idea when 
confronting the inmates of a stable or menagerie. *' What 
compassion," he cries, " do these imprisoning forms 
awaken ! You may sometimes catch the glance of a 
dog which lays a kind of claim to sympathy and brother- 
hood. What ! somewhat of me down there ? Does 
he know it ? Can he, too, as I, go out of himself, see 
himself, perceive relations ? We fear lest the poor brute 
should gain one dreadful glimpse of his condition, should 
learn in some moment the tough limitation of this 
fettering organisation. It was in this glance that Ovid 
got the hint of his metamorphosis ; Calidasa of his 
transmigration of^souls. 

" For these fables are our own thoughts carried out. 
What keeps these wild tales in circulation for thousands 
of years ? What but the wild fact to which they suggest 
some approximation of theory ! Nor is the fact quite 
solitary, for in varieties of our own species where organi- 
sation seems to predominate over the genius of man, in 
Kalmuck or Malay or Flathead Indian, we are sometimes 
pained by the same feeling ; and sometimes, too, the 
sharp-witted prosperous white man awakens it. In a 
mixed assembly we have chanced to see not only a glance 
at Abdiel so grand and keen, but also in other faces the 
features of the mink, of the bull, of the rat, and the 
barn-door fowl." ^ 

^ 1906, p. 17. 2 ihid., p. 233. 

* Emerson, " Works," 1903, Vol. IV. " Demonology," pp. 12-13. 


The great Chinese Epic " A Journey to Heaven," 
depicts the gradual evolution of the beast into man 
and the transformation of character from unpromising 
materials into saints w^orthy of heaven. The monkey's 
ambition, the pig's love of ease and the horse's one talent 
of bearing burdens are all made to play their part in 
working out the salvation of man. One of the chief 
characters in the story is Sun Wu King, who personates 
the irrepressible human mind, an inventive genius full 
of resource who begins with monkey inquisitiveness to 
discover the reasons of things and presently develops 
into a man of science and an inventor. 

The pig impersonates man's lower nature and demons 
represent the untamed passions of man. One demon 
having once been a clever, handsome man, became 
extremely ugly with a snout like a pig and long flapping 
ears. He tells his story thus : " Since I was born I have 
been stupid and loved ease night and day. I received 
the pill of nine Transformations and studied all the arts 
by which man could be united to the powers above and 
below, till at last I was able to fly with a light but strong 
body and was a guest in the celestial Court." Thence 
he was thrown out for misdemeanours and made to take 
the shape of a pig, but gradually he was weaned to 
better things and lost his animal propensities. 


According to the tradition of the scapegoat, the evil 
or lower side of man can be transferred from him to an 
animal. In this process of removing disease or sin, the 
bad spirit is expelled from the human being and enters 
the form of some beast. In India the scape-animal may 
be a pig, buffalo, a goat or a black cock. 

The Jews had the custom of bringing a goat to the 
door of the Tabernacle and the high priest laid the sins 
of the people upon the animal, sending it thereafter 
away with its burden into the wilderness. 

In Thibet a human scapegoat, dressed in goat's skin, 
is kicked out of the community as soon as the people have 
confessed their sins, and wealthy Moors keep a wild boar 
in their stables as a vehicle for the evil spirits to enter 
into which might otherwise injure their horses. 

The Kaffirs sometimes take a goat in the presence of a 
sick man and confess sins over him. Then a few drops 
of the patient's blood are allowed to fall on the animal's 
head and the sickness is thought to be transferred, the 
animal being turned loose over the veld. The medicine- 
men of the Baganda races perform a similar operation, 
taking hold of the animal and tying upon it some herbs 
they have passed over the patient's body. Then the 
animal is driven away to waste land, and the sick man is 
supposed to recover. The Baganda people transmit the 
sins of a dead man to a calf, the animal being led three 
times round the bier and the hand of the dead man 



being placed on its head, by which act the calf takes upon 
itself the evil done by the deceased. Then the scape- 
goat is driven on to waste land, where it cannot con- 
taminate anybody. 

Thus Christ, in the country of the Gadarenes, per- 
mitted devils to use swine as scapegoats when driving 
them out of two men possessed. The unclean spirits 
besought the favour of Him, and the whole herd of 
swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and 
perished in the waters. 

St. Regulus, archbishop of Aries and Senlis, was once 
confronted by a man possessed of a devil. The devil 
besought him, saying, " If you cast me out suffer me 
to enter into the body of this ass," and the bishop 
said, " Go ! " When the devil was about to enter 
into the ass, the animal, aware of his intention, made 
the sign of the cross on the ground with his fore-foot 
and the devil found it impossible to obtain his body 
and had to pass on, leaving the ass unmolested. 

In another scapegoat story the devil leaves the pos- 
sessed man in the form of two worms : 

Jean de la Roque was a young nobleman of vicious 
habits. St. Francis of Paula hearing of the youth's evil 
ways sent a messenger to arrest him and had him locked 
up in a monastery. Roque was furious at this manner 
of tampering with his liberty and, vowing vengeance 
on those who detained him, beat on the door of his cell 
and uttered loud cries. At last, exhausted by passion, 
he lay down on the floor and slept. Then St. Francis 
entered the cell and, waking the young sinner, said to 
him coldly, " How now, friend, what thinkest thou ? 
Pull from thine ear that which torments thee so." The 
young man, still half asleep, put his hand to his right 
ear and drew forth a hideous hairy worm of monstrous 
size. Then putting his hand to his left ear he drew 
forth another similar worm. Thus the devil by which 
he had been possessed came forth in the form of two 
worms, and the young man, returning to himself, threw 


himself at the saint's feet and prayed for pardon. He 
was formally admitted to the monastery and remained 
there as a monk until 1520. 

Birds, too, have been employed to carry away any evil, 
— from leprosy to freckles. 

The idea of the scapegoat is closely bound up with, 
and typifies the substitution of the Christ for sinners 
and His eternal removal of their transgressions. 

In the legends of the saints, also, animals take upon 
themselves the burden of sins committed and no human 
beings are more closely related to the brute creation 
than the holy men, who frequently treated them as 
though they were brothers. St. Francis of Assisi spoke 
to birds and animals in the same tone that he used to his 
friends, and he often went into solitudes and preached 
to the cattle of the field, the fishes of the sea, the birds 
of the air, and the beasts of the forest ; dumb creatures 
which listened attentively to the words of wisdom which 
fell from his lips. One day when he was preaching at 
Alviano, the swallows were twittering so loudly that he 
grew annoyed. Breaking off suddenly in his discourse, 
he said, " My sisters, the swallows, please keep peace 
while I am preaching." After that they disturbed him 
no more. 

There are many stories in which saints are assisted in 
their work by animals. St. Gentius made a wolf which 
had eaten one of his oxen help him with the ploughing. 
St. Maidoc, having neither ox, horse nor ass, ordered 
a sea-cow to come from the ocean, which she did and, 
being harnessed to the plough, she furrowed his fields. 
When St. Malo settled down near Saintes, the neighbours 
made him a present of an ass, which was one day killed 
by a wolf. St. Malo said to the wild beast, " Since 
you have killed my ass you must serve me instead." 
The wolf performed his duties admirably for many 
years without a grumble. A similar story is told about 
St. Santes of Urbino. 

When St. Ronan was accused of being a^vampire, 


Grallo, King of Quimper, horrified to hear of such a 
monster, set dogs upon him to prove the truth of the 
statement. As the savage animals rushed towards him 
the saint raised his right hand, made the sign of the cross, 
and said, " Stop ! in the name of the Lord." The 
animals became gentle at once and fawned on the saint. 

There are legends of the souls of saints being borne 
away hy animals, of the souls of saints taking flight in the 
shape of birds, of saints changing from one animal form 
to another, of saints being approached by the devil in 
the form of animals, and of saints being worshipped in 
animal shape. 

At the moment of the death of St. Vincent Ferrer, 
the windows of his bedchamber opened of their own 
accord and a number of winged creatures no larger than 
butterflies, white in colour and very beautiful, flew into 
the house. As the saint drew his last breath these 
winged creatures disappeared suddenly, leaving a de- 
lightful perfume behind them. Everyone was convinced 
that the butterflies were angels who had come to carry 
away the pure soul of the saint to paradise. 

The same saint was said to be able to assume wings, 
whenever he wished, and, in the form of a bird-angel, 
to fly through the air in the hope of consoling and 
comforting anyone who was in trouble and required his 

St. Benedict (a.d. 480-543) was tempted by the devil 
in the form of a blackbird. The saint had retired to a 
cavern in Subiaco, about fifty miles west of Rome, and 
the evil one resolved to do away with a holy man who 
might prove a great enemy to his kingdom upon earth. 
Taking the form of a bird, he hovered around the 
hermit's dwelling-place, sometimes approaching so close 
that the saint had only to put out his hand to touch the 
bird. Becoming suspicious of the bird's motives, 
however, St. Benedict made the sign of the cross and 
the evil spirit vanished instantly. 

St. Peter of Verona was also set upon by the devil, 


this time in the shape of a horse. The holy man attracted 
large crowds to his church, and the devil, growing 
jealous, rushed into the midst of the congregation in the 
form of a black horse, stamping upon many present and 
causing a panic of fear among the rest. The saint made 
the sign of the cross and the phantom vanished in a cloud 
of smoke. 

Sometimes the devil appears to saints in the form of 
a bull, and can work serious bodily harm, as in the case of 
St. Catherine of Sweden, daughter of prince Ulpho, who 
was brought up in the convent of Risburgh. The abbess 
was at matins one morning and the devil, assuming the 
form of a bull, tossed the child out of its cradle and left 
her half-dead in the middle of the floor. The abbess 
found her in this condition on her return, and the bull, 
addressing the holy woman, cried, " I should certainly 
have finished my work if God had permitted it," and 
then he vanished. The devil, according to tradition, has 
often been seen in the form of a dog/ and some of the 
saints were annoyed by such phantoms. 

Simon Magus, the sorcerer, sent unto Peter the 
Apostle certain devils in the likeness of dogs to devour 
him. St. Peter, " not looking for such currish guests, 
consecrates certain morsels of bread and throws them to 
the dog-devils, and by the power of that bread they are 
all put to flight." 2 

When St. Stanislaus Kostka was preparing for admission 
into the society of Jesus he was taken ill and the devil 
appeared to him in the guise of a great black dog. The 
demon took the sick man three times by the throat and 
tried to throttle him, but Stanislaus after some difficulty 
succeeded in driving him away by making the sign of the 

Devils in the guise of rooks or crows annoyed St. Agnes 
of Mount Pulciano by attacking her with beaks, claws, 
and wings. The young girl with great presence of mind 

^ S^e Chapter XXI on Animal Ghosts. 

2 Harsnet, Samuel, " Popish Impostures," 1603, pp. 97, 98, 


invoked the name of the Saviour and the whole flock 
flew off. 

St. Pascal Baylon, who lived from 1 540-1 592, was 
assailed by devils in the guise of various animals. Some- 
times they rushed upon him in the form of lions and 
tigers seeking to devour him. As he withstood their 
attacks with wonderful courage they tried to get at him 
in another way, and offered to impress upon his body the 
marks of divine wounds, making crosses of blood on 
various parts of his body. Then Pascal, horrified at this 
form of deception, cried out to the evil one, " You 
ravening wolf, how dare you take upon yourself the 
clothing of a lamb ? Away with you ! " This speech 
acted as an exorcism, and the devil vanished. 

The evil one has often been likened to a ravening 
wolf, which has led to the symbolic form of trans- 
formation from a wolf to a lamb being found in many 
legends — a mental change as extreme in its effects 
as any physical change could be. Andrew Corcini, 
afterwards Bishop of Fiesole, was converted in this 
figurative sense from a wolf into a lamb. He was 
the son of wealthy parents in Florence, and, shortly 
after his birth, in 1302, his mother dreamt that she 
had brought forth a wolf and that her wolfish off- 
spring ran into a church and became transformed into a 
lamb. As the boy grew, his wolfish character was clearly 
apparent ; he was cruel, selfish, and untamable. One day 
his mother said to him, " Andrew, you are in very truth 
the child of my dream," and then she told him what she 
thought of him. He was greatly struck by her story 
and spent the night in solitude and prayer. The next 
day he went to the church of the Carmelites and, 
prostrating himself before the image of the Virgin, he 
said, '' Glorious Virgin, see the wolf full of iniquity at 
thy feet. Thy offspring, oh mother, was a Lamb with- 
out blemish. Make me also a lamb of God, and receive 
me into the fold." For three hours he prayed without 
ceasing, and then the prior found him and acceded to 


his request to be taken into the Carmelite order, when 
he became a changed man.^ He died in 1373. 

St. WilHam of Acquitaine was also " converted from 
a wolf to a lamb " (a.d. 1157). He was Count of Poitou 
and Duke of Guyenne, a giant in stature and a wild 
beast in disposition. Through the holy offices of St. 
Bernard he became changed, and calling himself " the 
chief of sinners " repented of his evil ways in sackcloth 
and ashes. ^ 

These cases of spiritual transformation from animal- 
man to man-animal, though interesting psychologically, 
do not awaken the intense curiosity which material 
metamorphosis arouses, and which centres especially 
in the subject of the wer-wolf. 

Bodin^ accumulated a large amount of evidence in 
favour of actual transformation. He quotes one Pierre 
Mamor, who, whilst in Savoy, deposed to having seen a 
man change into a wolf and described how he did it. 
Henry of Cologne, author of a treatise, " de Lamys," 
vouched for the truth of similar statements. Ulrich 
le Meusnier, who dedicated a treatise to the Emperor 
Sigismund, gave numerous examples of the veritability 
of transformation, and swore to having seen a wer-wolf 
at Constance, who was accused of and executed for this 
crime. Germany, Greece, and Asia were much infested 
by these pests. In 1542, under the rule of Sultan 
Suleiman, a number of wer-wolves were found at Con- 
stantinople. The Emperor called out the guard and, 
marching forth at its head, freed the city of one hundred 
and fifty of these terrors in full view of the people. 

Paracelsus, one of the greatest occultists the world 
has known, was positive that men could change into 
animals. Gaspar Peucerus, who had long been sceptical 
and thought such ideas were a fable, was constrained to 
believe there was truth in certain stories brought to him 

^ Surius, " Lives of the Saints." 

- Thibault, " Life of Guillaume of Acquitaine." 

^ " De la Demonomanie des Sorciers," 1593, Book II, pp. 195-6. 


hy merchants trading in Livonia, who had seen victims 
of lycanthropia executed for their misdeeds. 

In the history of Johannus Trithemius, it may be read 
that in the year 970 there was a Jew called Baian, son of 
Simeon, who was not only able to turn into a wolf at 
pleasure, but could also render himself invulnerable, and 
Sigebertus, the historian, wrote that one of the Kings 
of Bulgaria was able to transform himself into all kinds 
of animals. 

Boguet, if anything, erred on the side of credulity. 
He asserted that in 1148 a huge man- wolf was seen at 
Geneva, which killed thirty people.^ 

In July, 1603, in the district of Douvres and Jeurre 
a great storm of hail fell and damaged all the fruit trees, 
and three mysterious wolves were seen. They had no 
tails, and they passed harmlessly through a herd of cows 
and goats, touching none of them except one kid, which 
one of the wolves carried to a distance without in any 
way injuring it. This unnatural conduct made it fairly 
evident that these were not real wolves, but sorcerers 
who had brought about the hail-storm and wished to 
visit the scene of the disaster. It was said that the biggest 
wolf that led the pack must be the evil one himself. 

The two stories which follow show that transformation 
was sometimes regarded as an instrument of divine 
punishment for sins committed. 

Albertus Pericofcius in Muscovy treated his subjects 
with gross cruelty, and extorted herds and flocks from 
them. One night he was away from home and all his 
cattle were killed. When informed of his loss he swore 
a round oath, saying, " Let him who has slain, eat ; if 
the Lord chooses, let him devour me as well." 

At his words some drops of blood fell to the ground, 
he was transformed into a wild dog, and rushing upon 
his dead cattle began to devour the carcases. 

Another gentleman in the vicinity of Prague who had 
robbed his tenants right and left took the last cow from 

^ " Discours des Sorciers," 1610. 


a widow who had five children to support. As a judg- 
ment he lost all his cattle, at which misfortune he broke 
into horrible curses. He was there and then transformed 
into a dog which had a human head. 

These incidents, however, throw no light on the real 
nature of the wer-wolf or wer-dog, which remains as 
much a mystery as that of the vampire. In some points 
a similarity may be said to exist between them, both being 
destructive forces, of an evil and self-seeking character. 
Those afflicted become subject to trance-like states and 
hysterical phenomena. 

A certain kind of vampire (which is really a blood- 
sucking ghost) is said to have the power of assuming 
animal shape, and Bulgarian vampires appear to be 
especially gifted with this peculiarity. 

It is believed in a certain district of Germany that un- 
less money is placed in the mouth of a corpse at the time 
of burial, or if the dead man's name is not cut from his 
shirt, he will become a vampire and his ghost will issue 
from his grave in the form of a pig. 

A gruesome story is told of a witch who chose to wander 
in animal shape. She died in 1345 and her body was 
cast rudely into a ditch, but instead of resting quietly 
she roamed at night in the form of various unclean 
beasts, leaving havoc and death in her tracks. On 
exhumation she was found to be a vampire, and a stake 
was driven through her breast, which, however, failed 
to have the desired effect. She still prowled around in 
the dark, using the stake as a weapon with which to slay 
her victims, nor did she cease her nefarious deeds until 
her body had been reduced to ashes. 

Camden says that jilted maidens or deserted wives 
used to bribe witches to get their faithless men con- 
signed to prison for lycanthropy, the usual term being 
seven years, but, judging from the trials which are on 
record, death by burning was more frequently resorted 



In Poitou the peasants have a curious expression, " courir 
la galipote," which means to turn into a wer-wolf or 
other human-animal by night and chase prey through 
the woods. The galipote is the familiar or imp which 
the sorcerer has the power to send forth. 

In the dark ages sorcerers capable of this accomplish- 
ment were dealt with according to the law, and hundreds 
were sent to trial for practising black arts, being con- 
demned, in most instances, to be burnt alive or broken 
on the wheel. One of the most notorious historical cases 
was that of Pierre Bourgot, who served the devil for two 
years and was tried by the Inquisitor-General Boin. 

Johannus Wierius^ gives in full the confession of Bour- 
got, otherwise called Great Peter, and of Michael Verd- 
ing. The prisoners, who were accused of wicked practices 
in December, 1521, believed they had been transformed 
into wolves. 

About nineteen years before Pierre's arrest at Pouligny 
a dreadful storm occurred which scattered the flock of 
sheep of which he was shepherd, and while he went far 
afield to search for them he met three black horsemen, 
one of whom said to him, *' Where are you going, my 
friend ? You appear to be in trouble." 

Pierre told him that he was seeking his sheep, and the 
horseman bade him take courage, saying that if he would 
only have faith, his master would protect the straying 
sheep and see that no harm came to them. 

1 " Histoires, Disputes et Discours des Illusions et Impostures des 
Diables, etc.," 1579, P- ^54- 



Pierre thanked him and promised to meet him again 
in the same place a few days later. Soon afterwards he 
found the stray sheep. 

The black horseman, at their second meeting, told 
Pierre that he served the devil, and Pierre agreed to do 
likewise if he promised him protection for his flock. 
Then the devil's servant made him renounce God, the 
Virgin Mary, and all the saints of Paradise, his baptism 
and the tenets of Christianity. Pierre swore that he 
would do so, and kissed the horseman's left hand, which 
was as black as ink and felt stone-cold. Then he knelt 
down and took an oath of allegiance to the devil, and 
the horseman forbade him thenceforth to repeat the 
Apostles' creed. 

For two years Pierre remained in the service of the 
evil one, and during that time he never entered a church 
until mass was over, or at least until after the holy water 
had been sprinkled. 

Meanwhile his flock was kept in perfect safety, and 
this sense of security made him so indifferent about the 
devil that he began to go to church again and to say the 
creed. This went on for eight or nine years, when he 
was told by one Michael Verding that he must once 
more render obedience to the evil one, his master. In 
return for his homage Pierre was told that he would 
receive a sum of money. 

Michael led him one evening to a clearing in the woods 
at Chastel Charlon, where many strangers were dancing. 
Each performer held in his hand a green torch which 
emitted a blue flame. Michael told Pierre to bestir 
himself and that then he would receive payment, so 
Pierre threw off his clothes and Michael smeared his 
body with an ointment which he carried. Pierre believed 
that he had been transformed into a wolf, and was horri- 
fied to find that he had four paws and a thick pelt. He 
found himself able to run with the speed of the wind. 
Michael had also made use of the salve and had become 
equally agile. After an hour or two they resumed human 


shape, their respective masters giving them another salve 
for this purpose. After this experience Pierre complained 
that he felt utterly weary, and his master told him that 
w^as of no consequence and that he would be speedily 
restored to his usual state of health. 

Pierre was often transformed into a wer-wolf after 
this first attempt, and on one occasion he fell upon a boy 
of seven with the intention of killing and eating him, but 
the child screamed so loudly that he beat a hasty retreat 
to the spot where his clothes lay in a heap, rubbed himself 
hurriedly with the ointment and resumed human form 
to escape capture. Another time Michael and he killed 
an old woman who was gathering peas, and one day 
whilst in the shape of wolves they devoured the whole 
of a little girl except for one arm, and Michael said her 
flesh tasted excellent, although it apparently gave 
Pierre indigestion. They confessed also to strangling a 
young woman, whose blood they drank. 

Among other disgusting crimes, Pierre murdered a 
girl of eight in a garden by cracking her neck between his 
jaw^s, and he killed a goat near to the farm of one Master 
Pierre Lerugen, first by setting on it with his teeth and 
then by gashing its throat with a knife. The latter 
operation leads to the belief that he had resumed his 
ordinary shape at the time. 

A peculiar point worth noticing about the case of 
Michael and Pierre was that the former was able to 
transform himself at any moment with his clothes on, 
while the latter had to strip and rub in ointment to achieve 
the same result. At the time of his confession Pierre 
declared that he could not recollect where the wolf's 
fur went to when he became human again. 

He also deposed that an ash-coloured powder was given 
to him, which he rubbed upon his arms and left hand 
and thus caused the death of every animal he touched. 
Here there would seem to be some discrepancy, for he 
declared that in many instances he strangled, bit, or 
wounded his victims ! 


Garinet^ gives a good account of the important trial 
in 1573 o£ Gilles Garnier, who was arrested for having 
devoured several children whilst in the form of a wer- 

The prisoner was accused of seizing a young girl aged 
ten or twelve in a vineyard near Dole, of killing her and 
dragging her into a wood, and of tearing the flesh from 
her bones with his teeth and claws. He found this food 
so palatable that he carried some of it away with him 
and offered to share it with his wife. A week after the 
feast of All Saints he captured another young girl near 
the village of La Pouppe, and was about to slay and 
devour her when someone hastened to her rescue and 
he took flight. 

A week later, being still in the form of a wolf, he had 
killed and eaten a boy at a spot between Gredisans and 
Menote, about a league from Dole. He was accused also 
of being in the shape of a man when he caught another 
boy of twelve or thirteen years of age and carried him 
into the wood to strangle him, and, " in spite of the fact 
that it was Friday," he would have devoured his flesh 
had he not been interrupted by the approach of some 
strangers, who were too late, however, to save the boy's 
life. Garnier, having admitted all the charges against 
him, the judge pronounced the following sentence : — 

" The condemned man is to be dragged to the place 
of execution and there burnt alive and his body reduced 
to ashes." 

The account of the trial, which took place on the i8th 
day of January, 1 573, was accompanied by a letter from 
Daniel dAnge to the Dean of the Church of Sens w^hich 
contained the following passage : — 

" Gilles Garnier, lycophile, as I may call him, lived 
the life of a hermit, but has since taken a wife, and having 
no means of support for his family fell into the way, as 
is natural to defiant and desperate people of rude habits, 
of wandering into the woods and wild places. In this 
^ " Histoire de la Magie en France," 1818, pp. 129-31. 


state he was met by a phantom in the shape of a man, who 
told him that he could perform miracles, among other 
things declaring that he would teach him how to change 
at will into a wolf, lion, or leopard, and because the wolf 
is more familiar in this country than the other kinds of 
wild beasts he chose to disguise himself in that shape, 
which he did, using a salve with which he rubbed himself 
for this purpose, as he has since confessed before dying, 
after recognising the evil of his ways."^ 

The affair made such a stir in the neighbourhood, and 
the dread of wer-wolves had risen to such a pitch, that 
it was found necessary to ask the help of the populace 
in suppressing the nuisance. A legal decree was issued 
which empowered the people at Dole to " assemble with 
javelins, pikes, arquebuses, and clubs to hunt and pursue 
the wer-wolf, and to take, bind, and kill it without 
incurring the usual fine or penalty for indulging in the 
chase without permission." 

Boguet is the authority who cites the following cases 
of lycanthropy : ^ 

A boy called Benedict, aged about fifteen, one day 
climbed a tree to gather some fruit, w^hen he saw a wolf 
attacking his little sister, who was playing at the foot of 
the tree. 

The boy climbed down quickly, and the animal, 
which was tailless, let go of the little girl and turned upon 
her brother, who defended himself with a knife. Accord- 
ing to the boy's account, the wolf tore the knife out of 
his hand and struck at his throat. A neighbour ran to 
the rescue and carried the boy home, w^here he died a 
few days after from the wound. Whilst he lay dying 
he declared that the wolf which had injured him had 
fore-paws shaped like human hands, but that its hind 
feet were covered with fur. 

After inquiry it was proved that a young and demented 

^ Cimber, " Archives Curieuses de Histoire de France," 1836, Series I, 
Vol. VIII, pp. 9-1 1. 

2 " Discours des Sorciers," 1610, pp. 361-2. 


girl called Perrenette Gandillon believed herself to be a 
wolf and had done this horrible deed. She was caught 
by the populace and torn limb from limb. This case 
occurred in the Jura mountains in 1598. 

Soon afterwards Perrenette's brother Pierre was 
accused of being a wer-wolf, and confessed that he had 
been to the witches' Sabbath in this form. His son 
George had also been anointed with salve and had killed 
goats whilst he was in animal shape. Antoinette, his 
sister, was accused of sorcery and of intercourse with the 
devil, who appeared to her in the form of a black goat. 
Several members of the Gandillon family were arrested, 
and in prison Pierre and George conducted themselves 
as though they were possessed, walking on all fours and 
howling like wild beasts. 

Not long after the Gandillon family had been disposed 
of, one Jeanne Perrin gave evidence that she was walking 
near a wood with her friend Clauda Gaillard, who 
disappeared suddenly behind a bush, and that the next 
moment there came forth a tailless wolf which frightened 
her so much that she made the sign of the cross and ran 
away. She was sure that the hind legs of the wolf were 
like human limbs. When Clauda saw her again she 
assured Jeanne that the wolf had not meant to do her 
harm, and from this it was thought that Clauda had 
taken the shape of the wolf. 

One of the best known of the wer-wolf trials concerns 
Jacques Rollet, the man-wolf of Caude, who was accused 
of having devoured a little boy. 

He was tried and condemned in Angers in 1598. 
Rollet came from the parish of Maumusson, near to 
Nantes, and he carried on his practices in a desolate spot 
near Caude, where some villagers one day found the 
corpse of a boy of about fifteen, mangled and blood- 
bespattered. As they approached the body three wolves 
bounded into the forest and were lost to sight, but the 
men gave chase, and following in the animals' tracks, 
came suddenly upon a half-naked human being, with 


long hair and beard, his hands covered with blood and 
his teeth chattering with fear. On his claw-like nails 
they found shreds of human flesh. 

This miserable specimen of man-animal was hauled 
up before the judge, and under examination he inquired 
of one of the witnesses whether he remembered shooting 
at three wolves. The witness said he remembered the 
incident perfectly. RoUet confessed that he was one of 
the wolves and that he was able to transform himself by 
means of a salve. The other wolves were his com- 
panions, Jean and Julian, who knew the same means of 
acquiring animal shape. All the particulars he gave as 
to the murder were accurate, and he confessed to having 
killed and eaten women, lawyers, attorneys, and bailiffs, 
though the last-named he found tough and tasteless. 
In other respects his evidence was confused, and he was 
judged to be of weak intellect, and though condemned 
to death was sent finally to a madhouse, where he was 
sentenced to two years' detention. 

There was an epidemic of lycanthropy throughout this 
year, and on the 4th of December a tailor of Chalons 
was burnt in Paris for having decoyed children into his 
shop, a cask full of human bones being discovered in the 
cellar. For the space of a few years no notorious wer- 
wolf trials appear to have taken place, but the year 1603 
was almost as prolific in this respect as 1598. 

Information came before the criminal court at Roche 
Chalais that a wild beast was ravaging the district, that 
it appeared to be a wolf, and that it had attacked a 
young girl called Margaret Poiret in full daylight.^ 

A youth of thirteen or fourteen in the service of Peter 
Combaut deposed to the fact that he had thrown himself 
upon the said Margaret, whilst transformed into a 
wolf, and that he would have devoured her had she not 
defended herself stoutly with a stick. He also confessed 
to having eaten two or three little girls. 

^ See De Lancre, Pierre, " Tableau de I'lnconstance dcs Mauvais 
Anges et Demons," Paris, 161 3, p. 255 et seq. 


Evidence was given on May 29th, 1603, by three 
witnesses, one of whom was Margaret herself. She said 
she had been accustomed to mind cattle in the company 
of the boy, Jean Grenier, and that he had often frightened 
her by telling her horrible tales about being able to change 
into a wolf whenever he wished, and that he had killed 
many dogs and sucked their blood, but that he preferred 
to devour young children. He said he had recently 
killed a child, and after eating part of her flesh had thrown 
the rest to a com_panion wolf. 

Margaret described the beast which had attacked her as 
stouter and shorter than a real wolf, with a smaller head, 
a short tail, and reddish hide. After she struck at it, 
the animal drew back and sat down on its haunches like 
a dog, at a distance of about twelve paces. Its look was 
so ferocious that she ran away at once. 

The third witness was Jeanne Gaboriaut, who was 
eighteen years old. She gave evidence that one day, 
when she was tending cattle in company with other 
girls, Jean Grenier came up and asked which was the most 
beautiful shepherdess amongst them. Jeanne asked him 
why he wanted to know. He said because he wished to 
marry the prettiest, and if it was Jeanne he would choose 

Jeanne said, *' Who is your father ? " and he told her 
that he was the son of a priest. 

Then she replied that he was too dark in appearance 
for her taste, and when he answered he had been like 
that for a long time, she asked him whether he had 
turned black from cold or whether he had been burnt 

He said the cause was a wolf's skin he was wearing, 
which had been given to him by one Pierre Labourant, 
and when he wore it he could turn into a wolf at will 
or any other animal he preferred, and he went on with 
details similar to those he had disclosed to Margaret 

It was proved, however, that Grenier was not the son 


of a priest, but of a labourer, Pierre Grenier, and that he 
lived in the parish of St. Antoine de Pizan. 

When questioned as to his crimes, he confessed to the 
assault upon Margaret Poiret as described by her, and 
also that he had entered a house in the guise of a wolf, 
and finding no one there but a babe in its cradle he 
seized it by the throat and carried it behind a hedge in 
the garden, where he ate as much of the body as he could 
and threw the remainder to another wolf. 

At St. Antoine de Pizan he attacked a girl in a black 
dress who was tending sheep, and he killed and devoured 
her, a strange point being that her dress was not torn, 
as happens in the case when real wolves make the assault. 

When questioned as to how he managed to turn into 
a wolf, he said that a neighbour, called Pierre la Tilhaire, 
had introduced him in the forest to the Lord thereof, 
who had given wolf-skins to both, as well as a salve for 
anointing themselves. When asked where he kept the 
skins and the pot of ointment he replied that they were 
in the hands of the Lord of the Forest, from whom he 
could obtain them whenever he wished. 

He declared that he had changed into a wolf and gone 
coursing four times with his companion Pierre la Tilhaire, 
but they had killed no one. The best time for the hunt 
was an hour or two a day when the moon was on the wane, 
but he also went out at night on some occasions. 

When asked whether his father knew of these pro- 
ceedings, he replied in the affirmative, and declared that 
his father had rubbed him three times with the ointment 
and helped him into the wolf's skin. 

The inquiry into Jean Grenier's case was a very 
lengthy one and was adjourned several times, but 
eventually he was sentenced to imprisonment for life 
at Bordeaux on September 6th, 1603, his youth and want 
of mental development being pleaded in extenuation of 
the crimes of infanticide he had undoubtedly com- 
mitted. The president of the Court declared that lycan- 
thropy was a form of hallucination and was not in itself 


a punishable crime. Jean's father was acquitted of 
complicity, and allowed to leave the court without a 
stain on his character, and Jean was sent to a monastery. 

In 1610, after Jean had been at the Monastery of the 
Cordeliers in Bordeaux for seven years, De Lancre, who 
relates his story, went to see him. He was then about 
twenty years of age and of diminutive stature. His 
black eyes were haggard and deep-set, and he refused to 
look anyone straight in the face. His teeth were long, 
sharp, and protruding, his nails were also long and black, 
and his mind was a mere blank. 

He told De Lancre, not without pride, that he had 
been a wer-wolf, but that he had given up the practice. 
When he first arrived at the monastery he had preferred 
to go on all fours, eating such food as he found on the 
ground. He confessed that he still craved for raw human 
flesh, especially the flesh of little girls, and he hoped it 
would not be long before he had another opportunity 
of tasting it. He had been visited twice during his 
confinement by the Lord of the Forest, as he called the 
mysterious person who had given him the wolf-skin, but 
that both times he had made the sign of the cross and 
his visitor had departed in haste. 

In other respects his tale was identical with the ex- 
periences he had related before the court. 

De Lancre thought that the name Grenier or Garnier 
was a fatal name in connection with wer-wolves. 

Evidence was given as to the times, places, and number 
of murders, and many of the facts were proved in- 

Jean's evidence as to the part his father had played 
in his misdeeds was hazy. He said that on one occasion 
his father had accompanied him, also wearing a wolf-skin, 
and that together they had killed a young girl dressed in 
white, and that they had devoured her flesh, the month 
being May of 1601. 

He also added curious details regarding the Lord of 
the Forest, who had forbidden him to bite the thumb- 


nail of his left hand, which was thicker and longer than 
the others, and that if he lost sight of it while in the form 
of a wolf he would quickly recover his human shape. 

When confronted with his father Jean altered some 
of the details of his story, and it was agreed that long 
imprisonment and extended cross-examination had worn 
out his already feeble intellect. 

It is worth pointing out that in the cases of Rollet, 
the tailor of Chalons, and the Gandillon family, the 
prisoners were accused of murder and cannibalism, but 
not of association with wolves, and that in the trial of 
Garnier evidence was given as to the depredations of the 
wolf rather than of the accused. There was doubtless 
a difficulty in proving the identity of the perpetrator 
of the murders. 

A new era in these trials begins with that of Jean 
Grenier, for from that time onward medical men became 
m.ore enlightened, and the belief spread that lycanthropy 
was a mental malady, with cannibalistic tendencies 
which had developed under diseased conditions. 

In his " Dsemonologie," 1597, a reply to Reginald 
Scott's " Discovery of Witchcraft," James I of England 
declared that wer-wolves were victims of a delusion 
induced by a state of melancholia, and about the same 
period wolves became practically extinct in England, 
and only harmless creatures such as the cat, hare, and 
weasel were left for the sorcerer to change into with any 
possibility of a safe and natural disguise. 

For many years afterwards the confessions of witches, 
who were executed for their crimes, bore striking 
resemblance to those made by wer-wolves, and many 
strange facts which were published at these trials have 
never been, and may never be, satisfactorily explained 
on a purely materialistic basis. 


An extraordinary story about a wer-wolf comes from 
Ansbach in 1685 : 

The supposed incarnation of a dead burgomaster of 
that town was said to be ravishing the neighbouring 
country in the form of a wolf, devouring cattle as well 
as women and children. At last the ferocious beast was 
caught and slaughtered, and its carcass was encased in 
a suit of flesh-coloured cere-cloth, while its head and face 
were adorned with a chestnut-coloured wig and long 
white beard, after the animal's snout had been cut off 
and a mask resembling the dead burgomaster's features 
had been substituted. This efligy was hanged, its skin 
stuffed and put in a museum, where it was pointed out 
as a proof of the actual existence of wer-wolves. This 
incident appears to prove that the belief in wer-wolves 
had been shaken at that date, but it has never been 
finally eradicated, and it is only natural that a theme 
which has had such world-wide credence should occur 
again and again in mythology and literature. It is 
dealt with in the story of the festival of the god Zeus, 
which was held every nine years on the Wolf mountain 
in Arcadia. During the banquet a man, having tasted 
of a flowing bowl in which human and animal flesh were 
mixed, was turned into a wolf and remained a wolf 
nine years. If he had abstained from eating human flesh 
in the interval he became once more a man. The tra- 
dition appears to have originated in the existence of a 
society of cannibal wolf -worshippers, a member of which 
F 65 


perhaps represented the sacred animal for nine years in 

This compares in some degree with the practices of 
the Human Leopard Society, which is of comparatively 
recent origin. 

Lycaon, the King of Arcadia and father of Callisto, 
was turned into a wolf because he offered human sacri- 
fices to Jupiter, or, in the version given by Ovid, because 
he tried to murder Jupiter, who was his guest. Others 
believe that Lycaon is the Constellation of the Wolf, 
and that in him were the united qualities of wolf, king, 
and constellation. 

Pliny points out that the origin of transformation 
into wolves was due to Evanthes, a Greek author of 
good repute, who tells the story of Antheus, the Arcadian, 
a member of whose family is chosen by lot and then taken 
to a certain lake in the district, across which he swims and 
is changed into a wolf for a space of nine years. So, too, 
Demaentus, during a sacrifice of human victims, tasted 
the entrails of a boy who had been slaughtered, upon 
which he turned into a wolf, but ten years later he was 
victorious in the pugilistic contests at the Olympic 

The following quaint story is taken from Petronius, 
being told by one Niceros, at a banquet given by 

" It happened that my master was gone to Capua to 
dispose of some second-hand goods. I took the oppor- 
tunity and persuaded our guest to walk with me to our 
fifth milestone. He was a valiant soldier, and a sort of 
a grim water-drinking Pluto. About cock-crow, when the 
moon was shining as bright as midday, we came amongst 
the monuments. My friend began addressing himself 
to the stars, but I was rather in a mood to sing or count 
them ; and when I turned to look at him, lo ! he had 
already stripped himself and laid his clothes near him. 
My heart was in my nostrils, and I stood like a dead 
man ; but he made a mark round his clothes and on a 


sudden became a wolf. Do not think I jest, I would not 
lie for any man's estate. But to return to what I am 
saying. When he became a wolf he began howling and 
fled into the woods. At first I hardly knew where I was, 
and afterwards, when I went to take up his clothes, 
they were turned into stone. Who then was more like 
to die from fear than I ? Yet I drew my sword, and 
cutting the air right and left came thus to my sweet- 
heart's house. When I entered the courtyard I was like 
to breathe my last, perspiration poured from my neck, 
and my eyes were dim. My Melissa met me to ask where 
I had been so late, and said, ' Had you only come sooner 
you might have helped us, for a wolf came to the farm 
and worried our cattle ; but he had not the best of the 
joke, for all he escaped, as our servant ran a lance through 
his neck.' When I heard this I could not doubt what had 
happened, and as the day dawned I ran home as fast as 
a robbed innkeeper. When I came to the spot where the 
clothes had been turned into stone I could find nothing 
except blood. But when I got home I found my friend, 
the soldier, in bed, bleeding at the neck like an ox, and 
a doctor dressing his wound. I then knew he was a 
turnskin ; nor would I ever have broken bread with him 
again, no not if you had killed me." 

The expression turnskin or turncoat is a translation 
of the Latin versipelles, a term used to describe a 

Another story in which the human being suffers from 
the wound inflicted on the wer-wolf concerns a fine lady 
of Saintonge, who used to wander at night in the forests 
in the shape of a wolf. One day she caught her paw in 
a trap set by the hunters. This put an end to her 
nocturnal wanderings, and afterwards she had to keep 
a glove on the hand that had been trapped, to conceal 
the mutilation of two of her fingers. 

Eliphas Levi, the occultist, has endeavoured to explain 
this sympathetic condition between the man and his 
animal presentment. 


'* We must speak here of lycanthropy, or the nocturnal 
transformation of men into wolves, histories so well 
substantiated that sceptical science has had recourse to 
furious maniacs, and to masquerading as animals for 
explanations. But such hypotheses are puerile and ex- 
plain nothing. Let us seek elsewhere the solution of 
the mystery, and establish — First, that no person has 
been killed by a wer-wolf except by suffocation, without 
effusion of blood and without wounds. Second, that 
wer-wolves, though tracked, hunted, and even maimed, 
have never been killed on the spot. Third, that persons 
suspected of these transformations have always been 
found at home, after the pursuit of the wer-wolf, more 
or less wounded, sometimes dying, but invariably in 
their natural form. . . . 

" We have spoken of the sidereal body, which is the 
mediator between the soul and the material organism. 
This body remains awake very often while the other is 
asleep, and by thought transports itself through all space 
which universal magnetism opens to it. It thus lengthens, 
without breaking, the sympathetic chain attaching it to 
the heart and brain, and that is why there is danger in 
waking up dreaming persons with a start, for the shock 
may sever the chain at a blow and cause instantaneous 
death. The form of our sidereal body is conformable to 
the habitual condition of our thoughts, and in the long 
run it is bound to modify the features of the material 
organism. Let us now be bold enough to assert that the 
wer-wolf is nothing more than the sidereal body of a man 
whose savage and sanguinary instincts are represented 
by the wolf, who, whilst his phantom is wandering 
abroad, sleeps painfully in his bed, and dreams that he is 
a veritable wolf. What renders the wer-wolf visible is 
the almost somnambulistic over-excitement caused by 
the fear of those who see it, or their disposition, more 
particularly among simple country-folk, to place them- 
selves in direct communication with the astral light 
which is the common medium of dreams and visions. 


The blows inflicted on the wer-wol£ really wound the 
sleeper by the odic and sympathetic conjestion of the 
astral light and by the correspondence of the immaterial 
with the material body. . . ."^ 

This pecuharity of the wound dealt to the wer-wolf 
being reproduced in the human being is emphasised by 
an incident which occurred about 1588 in a tiny village 
situated in the mountains of Auvergne. A gentleman 
was gazing one evening from the windows of his castle 
when he saw a hunter he knew passing on his way to the 
chase. Calling to him, he begged that on his return he 
would report what luck he had had. The hunter after 
pursuing his way was attacked by a large wolf. He fired 
off his gun without hitting the animal. Then he struck 
at it with his hunting knife, severing one of the paws, 
which he picked up and put in his knapsack. The 
wounded wolf ran quickly into the forest. When the 
hunter reached the castle he told his friend of his strange 
fight with a wolf, and to emphasise his story opened his 
knapsack, in which to his horror and surprise he saw, not 
a wolf's paw as he had expected, but the hand of a woman 
which had a gold ring on one of the fingers. 

The owner recognised the ring as belonging to his 
wife, and hastening into the kitchen to question her he 
found her with one arm hidden beneath the folds of a 
shawl. He drew it aside and saw she had lost her hand. 
Then she confessed that it was she who, in the form of 
a wolf, had attacked the hunter. She was arrested and 
burnt to death soon afterwards at Ryon. 

In another variation of the wer-wolf story, the human 
being retains a material object acquired by his animal 
replica and is freed thereby from his obsession. 

A man, who from his childhood had been a wer-wolf, 
when returning one night with his wife from a merry- 
making, observed that the hour was at hand when the 
transformation usually took place. Giving the reins to his 
wife, he got out of the cart and said, " If anyone comes 
1 " Mysteries of Magic," 1897, pp. 237-8. 


to thee, strike at it with thy apron." Then he went away 
and a few minutes later the poor v/oman was attacked 
by a wolf. Remembering what her husband had told 
her, she struck at it with her apron, and the animal tore 
out a piece and ran off. Presently the man himself 
returned holding in his mouth the torn fragment of the 
apron. Then his wife cried out in terror, " Good Lord, 
man ! Why, thou art a wer-wolf ! " " Thank thee, 
mother ! " replied he, " but now I am free ! " and after 
this incident he kept human form until the day of his 

In " William of Palermo," the old romance known as 
" William and the Wer-Wolf," translated from the 
French at the command of Sir Humphrey de Bohun 
about A.D. 1350,2 the wer-wolf appears as a sort of a 
guardian angel. The brother of the King Apulia, 
envious of the heir-apparent, bribes two Vv^omen to 
murder the king's son. While the boy William is at play 
a wer-wolf runs off with him, swims across the Straits of 
Messina, and carries him into a forest near Rome, where 
it takes care of him and provides him with food. The 
wer-wolf in reality is Alphonso, heir to the Spanish 
throne, who has been transformed by his stepmother 
Queen Braunde, who desires her own son Braundinis to 
wear the crown of Spain. 

The wer-wolf embraces the king's son 

With his fore-feet, 

And so familiar with him 

Is the king's son, that all pleases him, 

Whatever the beast does for him. 

While the wer-wolf seeks provender, a cowherd finds 
WilHam and takes him to his hut, where the Emperor 
meets him when out hunting. Placing him behind him 
on his horse he takes him to Rome and gives him in 
charge of his daughter Melior, to be her page. 

1 Thorpe, B., " Northern Mythology," 185 1, Vol. II, pp. 168-9. 

2 Edited by W. W. Skeat, 1869. 


William and Melior fall in love with one another, and 
to avoid the Emperor's wrath devise an escape, disguised 
in the skins of white bears, helped by Melior's friend 
Alexandrine. When Melior asks whether she makes a 
bold bear, Alexandrine answers, " Yes, Madame, you 
are a grisly ghost enough, and look ferocious." Together 
the lovers wander out of the garden on all fours and 
making their way to the forest hide in a den. Meanwhile 
the wer-wolf has followed William's fortunes, and finding 
the wanderers in need, he sets on a harmless passer-by 
who carries provisions, and seizing bread and boiled beef 
out of his bag, lays it before the lovers, then runs off 
and, attacking another traveller, secures two flagons of 

Being pursued, the lovers escape to Palermo, led 
always by the wer-wolf, Alphonso, half-brother to 
Braundinis, who was destined by Melior's father to 
become his son-in-law. William does battle with the 
proposed suitor and, still helped by the wer-wolf, whose 
symbol is painted on his shield, overcomes his rival, takes 
the King and Queen of Spain prisoner and refuses to 
let them go until Queen Braunde promises to transform 
the rightful heir from a wolf back into a human being. 
" Unless she disenchants you, she shall be burnt," he 
says forcibly. Braunde takes her stepson, the wolf, 
into a private chamber, draws forth a magic ring with a 
stone in it that is proof against all witchcraft and binds 
it with a red silk thread round the wolf's neck. Then 
she takes a book out of a casket and reads in it a long 
time till he turns into a man. The wer-wolf is delighted, 
but apologises to his stepmother for having no clothes 
on, and she commands him to choose who shall fetch his 
clothes. He answers that he will take his attire and the 
order of knighthood from the worthiest man alive, 
William of Palermo. William, being called, enters the 
chamber, where he sees a man who is an utter stranger 
and is only satisfied when he hears Alphonso's explana- 
tion, " I am the wer-wolf who saved you from many 


perils." William and Melior are married, all ends happily 
and William becomes Emperor of Rome. 

The Bretons give the name of Bisclavaret to the wer- 
wolf, or wer-fox, which throws itself upon the hunter's 
horse and terrorises it. The same thing is called Garwal 
by the Normans. Bisclavaret is supposed to be a wizard, 
and if in olden times an unknown lady offered food to 
the hunters at the moment the animal appeared she was 
thought to be a witch. 

Marie de France in her " Lay of the Bisclavaret " used 
the idea of a wer-wolf, and again in this case the animal 
has no savage instincts except against his enemies, a 
faithless wife and her perfidious lover. 

A gallant knight of Brittany, a favourite with the 
king, weds a fair lady whom he loves tenderly. Only one 
cloud darkens the wife's horizon. Her husband leaves 
her invariably three days a week and she does not know 
where he goes. One day she has the temerity to ask 
him, and he warns her that the information may be 
dangerous, but when she pleads with him he says : 

" Learn then that I become a wer-wolf during my 
absence. I go into the forest, hide in the thickets and 
seek my prey." 

" But, my dear, tell me whether you take off your 
clothes," says the wife, " or whether you keep them on ? " 

" I am naked when the transformation occurs, 

" And where do you leave your clothes ? " 

" I must not tell you, because if I were seen when I 
take them off I should remain a wer-wolf for the rest of 
my life. I can only recover human form at the moment 
I put them on again. After that you will not be sur- 
prised if I say no more." But she urges him to tell her, 
and finally he says that he hides his clothes under a bush 
near an old stone cross in the corner of a chapel, and 
there he puts them on when he wishes to resume his 
original shape. 

Frightened by his awful story the wife decides to live 


with him no more and immediately sends for a young 
man who is in love with her, tells him the story and 
enjoins him to go and take away her husband's clothes. 
Thus she betrays her husband, the wer-wolf, who does 
not return and is given up for dead, and some time after 
she marries her false lover. 

About a year later the king goes on a hunting expedition 
in the forest. There he comes across the wer-wolf, and 
the hounds immediately take up the scent and give chase 
the whole day long. Wounded by the hunters and 
wearied nigh unto death, the wolf seizes the bridle of 
the king's horse and licks his majesty's foot. The king, 
in great fear, calls his companions to look at the extra- 
ordinary wild beast that is capable of this humble action. 
He refuses to allow the wolf to be slaughtered and takes 
it back, in his train, to the castle. There the wolf lives 
in great comfort like a domestic pet and harms no one. 

Presently a great function is held at the court and 
the wer-wolf's former wife comes there with her new 
husband. The moment the wolf sets eyes on him he 
springs at his throat, and would surely have killed him 
had not the king beaten him off with a whip. For the 
rest of the gentleman's visit the wolf is kept under strict 

Some time afterwards, the king, accompanied by his 
faithful wolf, pays a visit to the lady, and the animal 
springs at her ferociously and bites off her nose. Then 
the courtiers say that the matter must be inquired into, 
for the wolf only turns savage when in the presence of 
this lady and her new husband. The king decides to 
have the couple arrested and the lady has to confess 
what happened, saying she thinks the wer-wolf must 
be her transformed husband. After hearing her story 
the king orders the wer-wolf's clothes to be placed where 
he can get them privately, and after waiting outside the 
room in which the metamorphosis is to take place, for 
some time, he enters and finds the former knight, his 
old friend whom he thought dead, lying quietly asleep. 


He restores all his honours and has his faithless wife 
chased out of the kingdom in company with her false 
lover. All their daughters are born without noses as a 
punishment for the wicked fraud practised on the wer- 

Olaus Magnus^ declares that although the inhabitants 
of Prussia, Livonia, and Lithuania suffer considerably 
from the depredations of v/olves as far as their cattle 
are concerned, their losses are not so serious in this 
quarter as those they suffer at the hands of wer-w^olves. 

On Christmas Eve multitudes of wer-wolves gather 
at a certain spot and band together to attack human 
beings and animals. They besiege isolated houses, break 
in the doors and devour every living thing. They burst 
into the beer-cellars and there empty the casks, thus 
proving their human tastes. A ruined castle near 
Courland appears to have been their favourite meeting- 
place, where thousands congregate in order to test their 
agility. If any of them fail to bound over the castle 
w^all they are slain by the others, as they are considered 
in that case to be incompetent for the work in hand. 

It is believed that a messenger in the person of a lame 
youth is sent round the neighbourhood to call these 
followers of the devil to a general conclave. Those who 
are reluctant to attend the meeting are beaten with 
iron scourges. When the gathering is assembled the 
human forms vanish and the whole multitude become 
wolves. The troops follow the leader, " firmly con- 
vinced in their imagination that they are transformed 
into wolves." The sorcery lasts for twelve days, and 
at the expiration of this period the human forms are 

Referring further to these Courland wer-wolves, it is 
said of them that Satan holds them in his net in three 
ways. Firstly they execute certain depredations, such 
as mangling cattle, in their human shapes, but in such a 

^ " Poesies de Marie de France," 1819, pp. 179-201. 

2 " History of the Goths, Swedes, and Vandals," 1658, pp. 193-4. 


state of hallucination that they believe themselves to be 
wolves and are regarded as such by others in a like 
predicament. Though not true wer-wolves they hunt in 
packs. Secondly they leave their bodies lying asleep and 
send forth their imagination in a dream that they believe 
they have injured the cattle, but that it is the devil who 
does what is suggested to them by their thoughts, and 
thirdly that the evil one induces real wolves to do the 
horrid deeds, but impresses the scene so vividly on the 
mind of the sleeper that he considers himself to be guilty 
of the act. 

The following stories exemplify these conditions. 
The first is told of a man who when starting on a journey 
saw a wolf attacking one of his sheep. He fired and it 
fled wounded into the thicket. On his return he was 
told that he had fired at one of his tenants, called Mickel. 

Mickel's wife, when questioned, said that her husband 
had been sowing rye and had asked her how he could get 
some meat for a feast. She said on no account was he 
to steal from the master's flock as it was well guarded by 
dogs. Mickel ignored her advice and had attacked the 
sheep. He came home limping badly and in a passion 
had fallen upon his own horse and had torn its throat. 
It seemed as though he were bewitched or in a trance. 

In 1684 a curious incident occurred to a man who had 
gone hunting in a forest. At dusk a pack of wolves had 
rushed towards him, and as he levelled his gun with the 
intention of aiming at the leader a voice arose from their 
midst, saying, " Don't fire. Sir, for no good will come 
of it." Then the phantom pack rushed onwards and he 
saw it no more. 

The third story is about a man-wolf who was accused 
of sorcery of the most flagrant kind. Finding a difliculty 
in getting evidence against the criminal, the judge sent a 
peasant to his cell v/ho w^as charged with the unpleasant 
task of forcing a confession. The prisoner was told that 
he might avenge himself upon another peasant to whom 
he owed a grudge, by destroying his cow secretly, and if 


possible when In the shape of a wolf himself. After 
much persuasion the supposed wer-wolf undertook to 
carry out the suggested plan. The next morning the 
cow in question was found to be fearfully mangled, 
but the strange part of the story is this, that although 
witnesses were set to watch the man in his cell, they 
swore unanimously that he had never left it and had 
passed the whole of the night in deep sleep, only at one 
time making slight movements of his head, his hands 
and his feet.^ 

Just as the man who thinks he changes into a wolf 
suffers from lycanthropy, so the one who believes he 
changes into a dog is suffering from kynanthropy, and 
those who change into kine from boanthropy. Every 
part of the world chooses a special animal as being the 
most suitable for disguise, and naturally enough the 
animal is one which is common to the district. Thus 
we find the tiger chosen for India and Asia, the bear 
for Northern Europe, the lion, leopard, and hyaena for 
Africa, the jaguar for South America, and so forth. 

Many superstitions surround the tiger. Besides being 
the abode of the soul of a dead man it may be the tem- 
porary or even the permanent form of a living human 
being. In India it is said that a certain root brings 
about the metamorphosis and that another root is used 
for the antidote. In Central Java powers of transfor- 
mation are believed to be hereditary, no shame is attached 
to it, and the wer-tiger is looked upon as a friendly 
animal, and if his friends call upon him by name he 
behaves like a domestic pet and is believed to guard the 
fields. In the Malay Peninsula faith in the genuine wer- 
tiger persists, and it is thought there also that the soul 
of a dead wizard enters the animal's body. During the 
process of transformation the corpse is laid in the forest, 
and beside it a supply of rice and water is placed, suffi- 
cient for seven days, in which time transmigration, 

^ See Leubuscher, R., "Ueber die Wehrwolfe und Thierverwand- 
lungen in Mittelalter," 1850, pp. 9-1 1. 


resulting from a compact made by the -pawang^s ancestors, 
is complete. A ceremony is also gone through by the 
son of a fazuang who wishes to succeed his father in 
tiger's form. 

A wer-tiger belief exists in India, and the Garrows 
think the mania is produced by a special drug which is 
laid on the forehead. First the wer-tiger pulls the ear- 
rings out of his ears and then wanders forth alone, 
shunning the company of his fellow-man. The disease 
lasts about fourteen days, and patients are said to have 
glaring red eyes, their hair dishevelled and bristled, and 
a peculiar convulsive manner of moving the head. When 
taken by fits of this kind they are believed to go forth 
in the night to ride on the backs of tigers. 

Another form of the belief is the wizard in the shape 
of a tiger, and the Thana tradition is that mediums are 
possessed by a tiger spirit. The Binuas of Johore think 
that every pazvang has an immortal tiger spirit. 

The belief that lion form is assumed by wizards is 
found near the Luapula and on the Zambezi, where a 
certain drink is supposed to effect the transformation. 
Among the Tumbukas people smear themselves with 
white clay, which gives them a certain power of metem- 
psychosis. Not only can men take lions' shape but 
lions can change into men. 



The rooted idea in the savage mind that animals may be 
invested hy human souls, and that men may at will 
transform themselves into animals, has been largely 
strengthened throughout the ages by the teachings of 
the " Medicine men " or wizards, who have no doubt 
found it profitable and conducive to their own acquisi- 
tion of power to work on the superstitions and foster 
the weaknesses of the people to whom they minister. 

Stories about lion- and tiger-men, hyaena-women, and 
other strange monsters gifted with human qualities are 
found in the Books of Travel in every part of the world. 

The way the sorcerer sets to work on the imagination 
of primitive people has often been described. Firstly 
he declares that he is about to change himself into a 
tiger and tear the people to pieces, and he no sooner 
begins to roar than the frightened natives, acting under 
the spell of suggestion, take to their heels, but they 
dare not go beyond the reach of those terrible sounds. 
" Look," cry the fear-stricken women, who cannot really 
see what is going on, " his body is covered with spots 
like a tiger ! Horrible ! his nails are turning into claws." 

All the time the sorcerer is hidden in his tent, carrying 
on a kind of magical performance which inspires the 
people with a dread of the unknown, so that they fall 
a prey to the imagination and almost lose their reason. 
When asked to explain this unholy dread, they declare 
that it arises from being unable to see and to kill the 
fearsome tiger-image which threatens them. 



Africa is vastly rich in stories of wer-lions, wer- 
leopards, and wer-hysenas, and the language of Bornu 
has a word " bultungin,^^ which means " I change myself 
into a hyaena." It is even said that in the village of 
Kabutiloa every native possesses the faculty of trans- 

The wizards of Abyssinia are said to be able to become 
hyaenas at will, and in '' The Life of Nathaniel Pearce "^ 
the story is told of a man called Coffin who was asked by 
a servant for leave of absence. No sooner had he granted 
the request than one of the other servants called out, 
" Look, look, he has turned himself into a hyaena ! " 
Coffin gazed in the direction in which the first servant 
had disappeared, and there he saw a large hyaena bounding 
across the open plain. The next morning the servant 
returned, and when asked about the matter asserted that 
such a transformation had actually taken place. Coffin 
brought himself to believe in these native stories, and 
quoted in evidence of their truth that he had often seen 
a certain kind of earring in the ears of hyaenas shot, 
trapped and speared by himself or his friends, identical 
with those which were commonly worn by the native 
servants. A natural explanation has been sought in the 
suggestion that the sorcerers themselves adorned the 
hyaenas with the gems in order to encourage a super- 
stition which they found profitable for their own pur- 
poses, but no proof of any such thing has been dis- 
covered. Abyssinia is a hotbed of strange happenings of 
this character, some of which are quite beyond under- 

The trade of blacksmith is hereditary there and is 
regarded with more or less suspicion, from the fact that 
blacksmiths are, with few exceptions, believed to be 
sorcerers and are opprobriously given the name of Bouda. 
They are said to have the power of turning themselves 
into various kinds of animals. '' I remember," says 

1 "Life and Adventures of Nathaniel Pearce," 1831. Ed. by 
J. J. Halls. Vol. I, p. 288 n. 


Mansfield Parkyns in " Life in Abyssinia,"^ " a story of 
some little girls, who, having been out in the forest to 
gather sticks, came running back breathless with fright ; 
and on being asked what was the cause, they answered 
that a blacksmith of the neighbourhood had met them, 
and entering into conversation with him, they at length 
began to joke about whether, as had been asserted, he 
could turn himself into a hyaena. The man, they de- 
clared, made no reply, but taking some ashes, which he 
had with him tied up in the corner of his cloth, sprinkled 
them over his shoulders, and to their horror and alarm 
they began almost immediately to perceive that the 
metamorphosis was actually taking place, and that the 
blacksmith's skin was assuming the hair and colour of 
the animal in question. When the change was complete 
he grinned and laughed at them, and then retired into 
the neighbouring thickets. They stood rooted to the 
spot from sheer fright ; but the moment the hideous 
creature withdrew, they made the best of their way 

Parkyns tells another Bouda story^ which is fully 
credited by the natives. In the neighbourhood of 
Adoua there was said to be a woman who had one 
human foot and in the place of the other the hoof of a 
donkey. Several persons assured Parkyns that they had 
seen this human monstrosity, and others firmly believed 
the following account of the affair : 

The woman was said to have died, and was buried with 
ceremony in the churchyard. The following day a man 
came to one of the priests and offered him a sum of 
money for the body, pledging himself to strict secrecy. 
The bargain was concluded and the unscrupulous priest 
allowed the stranger, who was a blacksmith, to disinter 
and carry off the corpse. On the way to the market the 
blacksmith passed the house where the deceased lady's 
family lived, and he usually rode or drove a remarkably 
fine donkey which, strangely enough, on passing the 
1 j868, pp, 300-1 2 /^/j.j pp. 310-12, 


house, or any of the old woman's children, brayed loudly 
and endeavoured to run towards them. 

At first no notice was taken of this odd behaviour on 
the part of an ass, but at last one of the sons grew sus- 
picious and exclaimed, " I am sure that ass is my mother ! " 

Accordingly Bouda, ass and all were seized and brought 
to the hut, much to the apparent satisfaction of the 
animal, which rubbed its nose against the young men 
and was even said to shed tears of joy on the occasion. 

On being charged with the offence of sorcery the 
Bouda tried to make light of it and denied the accusa- 
tion, but at last by dint of threats and promises he was 
induced to confess that he had turned the old woman 
into a donkey, she having been not really dead but in a 
trance, into which he had purposely thrown her. His 
power, he asserted, was sufficient to change the external 
appearance, but not to alter the mind of his victim. 
Hence it was that the old woman, or rather donkey, 
possessed human feelings, which she had displayed in 
her endeavours to enter her former habitation and in 
her recognition of her children. The Bouda, moreover, 
agreed to restore her human appearance, and began his 
exorcism. As he proceeded she by degrees assumed her 
natural form, and the change was almost complete, when 
one of the sons, blinded by his rage, forgot the promises 
of pardon which the Bouda had exacted, and drove his 
spear through his heart. The incantation not being 
entirely finished, one foot remained in the shape of the 
hoof of an ass and continued so until her death, which 
was not till many years afterwards. 

Still another story belonging to the same class concerns 
two brothers who lived in Gojam. One of them having 
transformed himself into a horse, ass or cow, was sold 
in the market and driven out of town by his purchaser. 
Directly night had closed the eyes of his new master in 
sleep the Bouda took on human form again and walked 
quietly home. The brothers were known to sell cattle 
in the market so frequently that people became suspicious, 



because they did not know where their stock was kept, 
and they often had no beasts in their yard even the very 
day before the sales. Besides, it soon leaked out that 
every animal sold make its escape the same night and was 
never heard of again. Then a purchaser who had been 
twice taken in by the brothers, determined to discover 
how the fraud was carried out. One market day he 
bought a fine horse from one of the brothers and rode 
off upon it, but no sooner had he left the market town 
behind him than he dismounted and drove a knife 
through the animal's heart. Then he walked back to 
the market-place and meeting the vendor told him that 
he had killed the beautiful animal he had just bought in 
a fit of passion. The Bouda gave a start, but managed to 
conceal his grief till he entered his house, when he burst 
forth into lamentations and rubbed the skin off his fore- 
head, as the custom is when a near relative dies. To his 
inquisitive neighbours he declared that his favourite 
brother had been robbed and murdered in the Galla 
country, whither he had travelled in order to purchase 
horses. It was said, however, that he afterwards sent no 
more animals to the market-place for sale. 

According to Livingstone's account^ the Makololo 
also believe that certain people can transform them- 
selves into animals, and they call such persons "Pon- 
doro." Livingstone came across a Pondoro in the 
Kebrasa hills, and heard that this gentleman was in the 
habit of assuming the shape of a lion which he retained 
for days and sometimes even for a month, during which 
time he wandered in the woods where his wife had built 
a den for him and took care that he was provided with 
food and drink. No one was allowed into the den except 
the Pondoro and his wife, and no strangers were per- 
mitted even to lay a gun against any of the trees in the 
neighbourhood of the den, or against any shanty owned 
by the Pondoro. The wer-lion used his gift to go 

^ Livingstone, D. and C.,- " Narrative of an Expedition to the 
Zambesi and its Tributaries," 1^65, p. 159. 


hunting in the village. After a few days had passed his 
faithful spouse scented her returning husband and pro- 
vided him with a certain kind of medicine or ointment 
by which it became possible for him to change into a 
man again. But she had to hurry over this duty, so that 
the lion might not catch sight of her and, falling upon 
her, devour even her. 

After the Pondoro was once more human he returned 
to the village and asked the inhabitants to help him 
carry home his prey. One of the odd things about this 
wer-lion was that he always trembled if he smelt gun- 
powder, and he sometimes overacted his part. Living- 
stone asked the natives to make him show off while he 
was watching, offering a reward for the performance, 
but they refused, saying, " If we ask him to do so, he 
may change while we are asleep and kill us." It was 
owing to his distaste for the smell of gunpowder that it 
was made punishable to rest muskets against his den. 

In the same district the belief is also current that the 
souls of departed chiefs enter into lions " and render 
them sacred." Thus when a hungry lion prowled round 
the camp where a freshly killed buffalo lay, a native 
servant harangued him loudly in between his roars, 
saying, " What sort of a chief do you call yourself, 
sneaking round here in the dark trying to steal our 
buffalo meat ? You're a pretty chief, you are ! You've 
no more courage than a scavenger beetle. Why don't 
you kill your own dinner ? " The Pondoro took no 
notice except to roar the louder, so a second native took 
the matter up and expostulated in more dignified terms 
as to the impropriety of the conduct of " a great chief 
like him " prowling round in the dark, " trying like a 
hyaena to steal the food of strangers." 

A piece of meat dipped in strychnine brought the 
lion-chief to his senses and he took his departure. It is 
not to be wondered at that such things occur in a country 
where the natives regard their chiefs as almighty and 
infallible. The extent of their faith in him appears from 


the story of one Chief Chibisa, who placed a powerful 
" medicine " in the river and told his people they might 
safely enter the water as it was a protection against the 
bite of crocodiles. Thereupon the people bathed there 
without fear of these dangerous reptiles. 

Du Chaillu, in " Ashango Land,"^ tells the story of a 
young lad, Akosho, who declared that he had been 
turned into a leopard, and feeling a craving for blood 
had gone forth into the forest where he had killed two 
men. After each murder he said he had taken on human 
shape. His chief Akondogo could not believe the story, 
but Akosho led him to the scene where lay the mangled 
bodies of the victims. It appears that the boy suffered 
from lycanthropia, and he was burnt to death in full 
view oi the tribe. 

Theophilus Waldmeier mentions a similar case of 
possession in which the patient thought herself to be a 
hyaena. 2 One evening when he was in his house at 
Gaffat a woman began to cry fearfully and run up and 
down the road on her hands and feet like a wild beast, 
quite unconscious of what she was doing. The natives 
said to him, " This is the Bouda, and if it is not driven 
out of her she will die." A crowd gathered round and 
everything possible was done to relieve her condition, 
but without avail. She howled and roared in an un- 
natural manner and most powerful voice. At last a 
blacksmith, who was said to have secret connection with 
the evil one, was called in to see what he could do. The 
woman obeyed his orders at once. He took hold of her 
hand and dropped the juice of a white onion or garlic 
into her nostril, and then he questioned the evil spirit, 
by whom she was supposed to be possessed, as follows : 

" Why did you possess this poor woman ? " 

" I was allowed to do so," came the answer through 
her lips. 

" What is your name ? " 

" Gcbroo." 

* p. 52. 2 "Autobiography," 1886, pp. 64-6. 


" And your country ? " 

" Godjam." 

" How many people have you already taken posses- 
sion of ? " 

"" Forty people — men and women." 

" You must now leave this woman's body." 

" I will do so on one condition." 

" What is it ? " 

" I want to eat the flesh of a donkey." 

The long cross-examination being concluded the evil 
spirit was granted his strange request. A donkey was 
brought and the possessed woman ran hastily upon the 
animal and bit the flesh out of the creature's back, and 
though the donkey kicked and started off, she clung to it 
as though fastened by leather thongs. 

After the performance had continued for some time 
the man recalled the woman, and a jar of prepared liquid 
with which much filth had been mixed was set down in 
a hidden spot where she could not see it. When, however, 
the exorcist exclaimed, " Go and look for your drink," 
she started off on all fours to the place where the jar 
stood and drank the whole of its contents. 

When she returned, the blacksmith said, " Take up 
this stone." Although the stone in question was too 
large for her to move under natural conditions, she 
placed it on her head with ease and began spinning 
round, until the stone flew off on one side and she fell on 
to the ground. Then the exorcist said to the people 
round, " Take her away to bed, the Bouda has left her." 

In a similar case the woman's symptoms began in a 
sort of fainting-fit ; her fingers were clenched in the 
palms of her hands, the eyes were glazed, the nostrils 
distended and the whole body stiff and inflexible. Sud- 
denly a hideous laugh, like that of a hyaena, burst from 
her and she began running about on all fours. The cure 
was brought about in much the same way as in the 
preceding case. 

Mr. Parkyns also tells the tale of a servant who was 


said to have been bewitched by a blacksmith- hyaena. 
He evidently attempted to lure her into the forest with 
the intention of devouring her. 

One evening the howls and laughter of a hysena were 
clearly heard from the hut in which the sick woman lay 
bound and closely guarded. Her master happened to 
be present, when he saw to his astonishment that she 
rose " like a Davenport brother " freed from her bonds, 
and made an effort to escape from the hut in answer to 
the call of the wild animal without. 

That such proceedings were sometimes carried out 
for vicious ends not unconnected with the slaying of 
human victims is proved by the existence of the mysteri- 
ous Human Leopard Society which Mr. T. J. AUdridge 
wTites about in " The Sherbro and Its Hinterland." 
The society was founded for the purpose of obtaining 
the human fat used in the preparation of a certain 
" medicine " mixed with Borfinor, the resulting material 
being regarded as an all-powerful fetish. 

Victims at first were relatives of the members of the 
society selected at committee meetings, who were after- 
wards waylaid and slaughtered by a man in the guise of a 
leopard. He plunged a three-pronged knife into the 
unfortunate person's neck from behind, separated the 
vertebrae and caused instant death. More victims w^ere 
required, outsiders were made to join the society by 
the expedient of giving them a dish in which, without 
their knowledge, human flesh was cooked. Afterwards, 
on being informed of the unpleasant fact, they were 
persuaded to join the society and told they must furnish 
a victim as part of the initiation ceremony. 

The members of the society rapidly increased in 
number but great secrecy was observed, and it was 
impossible to bring the criminals to justice. When 
questioned the victims declared that they had seen 
nothing. The leopard sprang from the bush, and it 
merely seemed as though a great wind had rushed by.^ 

1 1901, pp. 153-9. 


Before seizing their victims the human leopards cover 
themselves with the skin o£ the animal and imitate its 
roars. In the paws of the leopard skin are fixed sharp- 
pointed knives shaped like a leopard's claws, which are 
intended to inflict similar wounds, the better to avoid 
unpleasant disclosure. 

Many of the Indians in Guiana believe that " Kanaima " 
tigers are possessed by human spirits who, as men, de- 
vote themselves to deeds of cannibalism. Taking the 
shape of the jaguar they approach the lonely sleeping- 
places, or waylay Indians in the forests. No superstition 
causes more terror. 

A legend exists among the natives about an old man 
who lurked in the forest in the shape of a Kanaima tiger. 
His son, who was hunting, shot the tiger down. His 
arrow, which was one of the old-fashioned sort, tipped 
with bone, entered the animal's jaw. The tiger raised 
its paw, broke off the weapon and vanished into the 
forest. The young huntsman picked up the splintered 
arrow-head and returned home. Next day his guilty 
father came back groaning, and cried out that his mouth 
was " all on fire." The son drew from his cheek a bone 
which, oddly enough, fitted into his splintered arrow- 
head. Then the son was very sorrowful and said to his 
father that he must leave him and take his young wife 
away too, for neither of them would be safe from the 
dread Kanaima charm. This is a specimen of the 
" repercussion " stories, in which the wound inflicted 
on the wer-animal appears in the human form. 


Even more elaborate in detail and richness of lore than 
the lion-, tiger- and hyaena-transformations, are those of 
the wer-fox ; and a curious point to be noted is that it 
is quite as easy for the animal to become human as for a 
man or woman to become a fox. In Japanese folklore 
the fox is regarded as more skilful than any other animal 
in taking human shape. 

In China the belief exists that foxes and wolves attain 
to an age of eight hundred years, and " when more 
than five hundred years old they are able to metamor- 
phose themselves into beings shaped liked men."^ 

De Groot tells several stories about wer-foxes.^ A 
man runs away from home and is found in an empty 
grave. His shape is quite that of a fox, and does not in 
any respect correspond to the human form. The only 
sound he utters is 0-tsze (meaning red) which is the name 
for foxes. For ten days this wer-fox remains in a state 
of semi-consciousness, and then he awakens and gives the 
following account of himself : " When the fox came to 
me for the first time it assumed the shape of a lovely 
woman standing in a fowl-house in a hidden corner of 
my dwelling. She called me to her and told me she bore 
the name of 0-tsze.^ When she had called me many 
times I followed her and she became my wife. At night 

^ " The Pao Poh-tsze," chap, i, sect. 3. 

2 " Religious System of China." 

3 The legend says that a lady of light morals lived in the remotest 
times and bore the name of 0-tsze. She adopted the fox shape, and 
hence it is that such spooks often call themselves 0-tsze. 



I frequently accompanied her to her dwelling, and we 
met without being perceived by the dogs." 

No human animal is as seductive as the wer-vixen. 
Numerous stories occur in Eastern folklore of women 
in the shape of foxes and foxes in the shape of women 
leading men on through passion to their doom. Even 
male foxes take the shape of women to seduce men, but 
other harm than this they do not do them.^ 

Ono, an inhabitant of Mino (says an ancient Japanese 
legend of a.d. 545), spent the seasons longing for his 
ideal of female beauty. He met her one evening on a 
vast moor and married her. Simultaneously with the 
birth of their son, Ono's dog was delivered of a pup 
which as it grew up became more and more hostile to 
the lady of the moors. She begged her husband to kill 
it, but he refused. At last one day the dog attacked 
her so furiously that she lost courage, resumed vulpine 
shape, leaped over a fence and fled. 

" You may be a fox," Ono called after her, " but you 
are the mother of my son and I love you. Come back 
when you please ; you will always be welcome." 

So every evening she stole back and slept in his arms.^ 

The wer-fox has a strange manner of bringing about 
transformation. Roaming over a grassy plain, the animal 
picks up a skull, puts it on his head and, facing towards 
the north star, worships silently. At first he performs 
his religious genuflections and obeisances slowly and 
circumspectly, but by and by his motions become con- 
vulsively rapid and his leaps wondrously active. Yet, 
however high he jumps towards the star, he endeavours to 
keep his skull-crown immovable, and if after a hundred 
acts of worship he succeeds, he becomes capable of trans- 
forming himself into a human being. But if he desires 
to assume the shape of a beautiful maiden he must live 
in the vicinity of a graveyard.^ 

A monk who passed a moonlight night in a graveyard 

1 " Wuh tsah tsu," by Sie Chao chi. 

2 Brinkley, F., "Japan," 1902, Vol. V, p. 197. 3 m^,^ p. i^g. 


saw a fox placing withered bones and a skull upon its 
head, and as soon as the animal succeeded in moving its 
head without dropping its burden, it covered its body 
with grass and leaves, and changed into a beautiful 
woman. She sat by the roadside, and presently a man 
came riding by to whom she told a pitiable story about 
herself. Charmed with her appearance and sympathising 
with her forlorn condition, he was about to ask her to 
mount his horse with him, when the monk appeared from 
behind a gravestone and warned him that the woman 
was not what she appeared to be. Making the sign of the 
cross and uttering an incantation, the holy man caused 
the woman to fall down, and she turned into an old 
vixen and expired. Nothing remained but the dry bones 
with the skull, and the grass and the leaves on the dead 
body of the fox. 

De Groot quotes the old Chinese saying that the wild 
fox bears the name of Tsze (Red). At night he strikes 
fire out of his tail. When he desires to appear as a spook 
he puts on a human skull and salutes the Great Bear con- 
stellation, and the transformation is brought about as 
soon as the skull ceases to fall. 

One of the commonest stories of the fox, found in 
China and Japan, is that the fox as usual assumes the form 
of a lovely maiden, and weds a man. She dies and all 
that remains is the dead body of the fox. No more is 
heard of the woman. 

The Eskimos have a similar story. 

A bachelor coming home in the evening finds his hut 
tidied. One day, returning prematurely, he sees a woman 
at work straightening his things. He falls in love with 
her and marries her, only to discover that she is a fox in 
disguise, and when his jealous cousin mentions the 
tabooed subject of the smell of a fox, she runs away, 
never to return. 

Under the T'ang dynasty the belief in wer-vixens, who 
changed into fascinating women to tempt men, was 


'' When a fox is fifty years old, it can transform itself 
into a woman ; when a hundred years old, it becomes a 
beautiful female or sorceress termed wu. Such enchanted 
beings possess a knowledge of what is happening more 
than a thousand miles away. They can poison men by 
sorcery or possess and bewilder them so that they lose 
their memory or even their reason. When a fox reaches 
the age of a thousand it goes to paradise and becomes a 
celestial creature." ^ 

The wxr-vixen in the next story had not attained to 
this privilege, she belonged to a far different region. 

A captain in the Imperial Guard met a beautiful lady 
in the moonlight and began to talk to her. While she 
was speaking to him she kept her face hidden behind a 
fan. As they came to the palace the man remembered 
that wer-vixens were dangerous beings to deal with and 
he wanted to find out whether the woman was genuine 
or an animal in human shape, so he drew his sword, 
seized her by the hair, pushed her against one of the 
pillars in front of the palace and threatened to kill her. 
She struggled and jumped about violently, sending forth 
so pungent an odour that he could not hold her, and as 
he let her go she turned into a fox and ran off shrieking 
" ko, ko ! " The captain did not in the least regret 
the rough handling he had given the supposed beau- 
tiful lady; he only wished he had killed her on the 

Fox demons are said to cause disease and madness, and 
sometimes they act in a spirit of revenge, more often 
from unprovoked malice. The '* Huen Chung ki " men- 
tions that foxes sometimes take the shape of Buddhas 
or Bodhisattvas. Another mystic idea about wer- foxes 
is that they are believed to possess a mysterious pearl 
which represents their souL They hold this pearl in 
their mouths and any man who gets possession of it 
becomes a favourite throughout the world. In Japan 
some people think that foxes have a luminous pearl in 

1 The " Huen Chung ki." 


their tail. Whether this is connected with the soul or 
whether it is a talisman of power it is difficult to say. 

Wer-foxes in the shape of human beings can be made 
to resume their animal forms by wounding or slaying 
them or by setting dogs upon them. Incantations, 
argument if they appear in the shape of scholars, poison- 
ous food, written charms, or cutting off the caudal 
appendage if they show signs of one, are also effective 
means of making them declare themselves in their true 

If a person is possessed by a wer-fox he can have the 
evil spirit transferred to a woman in a similar manner to 
that practised by the Boudas of Abyssinia in the case of 
those possessed by hyaenas. In one instance the evil 
spirit spoke from the scape-woman's mouth as follows : — 

" I am a fox. I have not come to do evil, but only to 
have a look round, because I thought there was plenty of 
food at a place like this. Then I found that I (the patient) 
was kept indoors." Thus speaking, she took from her 
bosom a white gem, the size of a small orange. Throwing 
this into the air, she caught it again, and those who saw 
it said, " What a strange gem ; she keeps it in her pocket 
for the purpose of deluding people." A young man 
cleverly caught the gem as the woman threw it up and 
put it in his pocket. The demon fox begged him to 
give it back to her but he refused. She then burst into 
tears and said, " My gem is of no value to you for you 
do not know how to use it. If you do not give it back to 
me I will be your enemy for ever, but if you do, I will 
be your friend and protect you like a god." At these 
words the young man returned the gem. 

When the sorcerer had exorcised the fox spirit it was 
discovered that the gem had disappeared, which was 
taken as a proof that it belonged to the wer-fox, and was 
connected with some mysterious power. 

The fox kept its promise, for when the young man 
was going home late one night in the dark, he became 
suddenly very frightened and called the fox to help 



him. The animal appeared and led him by a narrow 
footpath instead of by the usual road. Afterwards he 
discovered that highwaymen were hidden in ambush 
near the road, and if he had passed that way he would 
surely have been killed. 

The cunning of the fox turns to learning in a man, 
for intellectuality appears to be regarded as a fox-like 
trait by the Japanese, and many tales tell of scholars 
becoming animals and vice- versa. 

A learned old man called Hu suddenly disappeared 
from the college in which he held a professorship, and 
was found by his students in the shape of a fox explaining 
logic out of an old book to a pack of foxes who were 
drawn up in ranks before him in an empty grave. 

Two foxes, in another story, were over a thousand 
years old and lived in the tomb of a king. They trans- 
formed themselves into students, giving proof of extra- 
ordinary learning, and having fine personalities and hand- 
some, open countenances. Mounted on horseback they 
rode to the house of a talented minister to argue with 
him on theological questions connected with the spirit 
of the glorification tree which stood before a tomb. 
The minister could not get the better of them in dis- 
cussion, and after three days he became suspicious and 
set his dogs loose upon them, but they showed not the 
slightest fear. " To be sure," he exclaimed, " they are 
spectres of the true sort. If a hmndred years old, they 
must change their shape at the sight of hounds ; if they 
are spooks of a thousand years, they must change when 
they see the glow of fire produced from a tree of the 
same age." Reasoning thus, the minister sent some 
servants to the tomb in order to fell the glorification 
tree. The spirit of the tree was a young child dressed 
in blue garments, and he was sitting in a cleft in the 
side of the tree. When the child was told of the matter 
he wept, and lamented the ignorance of the old foxes 
and his own fate. Then he vanished. When the servants 
felled the tree, blood gushed forth from it. They took 


the wood home and set fire to it, and as soon as it was 
kindled the foxes resumed their original shape. Then 
the minister had them captured and cooked. 

The power possessed by the fox of bewitching men is 
clearly shown in the following story quoted by Dr. 
Visser in " The Fox and Badger in Japanese Folklore. "^ 

In the eighth year of the Kwambei era (896) a man 
called Kaya Yoshifuji resigned the post of a high official 
in the Bizen province and went to live in Hongo Ashimori. 
His wife ran away to the capital and he kept house 
quite alone. One day he went out of his mind and began 
to recite love poems to an imaginary woman. After a 
month passed in this manner he disappeared and his 
relatives searched high and low but could find no trace 
of him, so they concluded that he had committed suicide, 
and vowed they would make an image of the eleven- 
faced Kwannon if they found the unhappy man's corpse. 
They cut down an oak tree and began to carve the life- 
size image of Yoshifuji, bowing before the unfinished 
statue to repeat the vow they had taken. This went on 
for about a fortnight, when to their intense surprise 
Yoshifuji crept from under his go-down as thin and pale 
as though he had passed through a serious illness. The 
floor of the go-down was only half a dozen inches from 
the ground, so that it was held to be impossible that a 
man could have been beneath it. When he had recovered 
his senses sufficiently to give an account of his adven- 
tures, he said that a beautiful girl had come to him, bring- 
ing love letters and poems from a princess, and that he 
had replied to them in the same vein in which they were 

" At last," he continued, " the girl came with a mag- 
nificent carriage and four postilions to take me to the 

" After a drive of about ten miles we arrived at a 
splendid palace, where an exquisite meal and a very hearty 
reception from the princess soon made me feel quite at 

1 1908, pp. 21-3. 


ease. There I lived with her as inseparably as two branches 
growing together on the same tree. She gave birth to a 
son, a very intelligent and beautiful child, whom I loved 
so much that I thought of degrading my son Jadasada 
and putting this child in his place as son of my principal 
wife — this in view of the high rank of the princess. But 
after three years a Buddhist priest suddenly entered the 
room of Her Highness, carrying a stick in his hand. The 
effect of his appearance was astonishing. Chamberlains 
and Court ladies all fled left and right and even the prin- 
cess hid herself somewhere. The priest pushed me from 
behind with his stick and made me go out of the house 
through a very narrow passage. When I looked back I 
discovered that I had just crept from under my own 
go-down ! " 

The curious point of this story is that those who 
listened to it rushed to the go-down and demolished it 
without delay. As they did so, twenty or thirty foxes 
came from beneath it and scattered in all directions, 
hastening to the mountains. Yoshifuji, bewitched by 
these wizard-foxes, had been lying under the go-down 
for a fortnight, believing in his trance that he was spend- 
ing three years in a palace. The priest who broke the 
spell was a metamorphosis of Kwannon. 

That the wer-vixen superstition is deeply engrained 
in the minds of travellers is proved by the story of a 
bishop who once passed the night in a house which was 
so desolate in appearance that his companions begged 
him to read a sutra for the purpose of driving away evil 
influences. Two of them went to a wood close to the 
house, where they saw a mysterious phantom, large and 
white, which they took to be a wer-vixen. They rushed 
in to tell the bishop, who, greatly excited, cried, " I have 
often heard of foxes haunting people, but I have never 
set eyes on a ghost of this kind," and he hastened to the 
spot, full of eagerness, only to discover a harmless, 
ordinary girl — or so he said ! 

Another wer-vixen attempted to steal a child. The 


nurse was out in the grounds with her charge of two 
years old when her master, the father of the infant, 
heard her crying for help. Seizing his sword he ran to 
the spot, when to his astonishment he found that tzuo 
nurses exactly alike were pulling at his son and heir, 
one on one side and one on the other. He could not 
say which was the genuine nurse, and in great terror 
brandished his sword, making feints at both. There- 
upon one of the nurses vanished and the other swooned, 
the child still in her arms. A priest was sent for and by 
means of incantations brought the nurse to her senses. 
She then said that her double had appeared and laying 
hold of the babe had claimed it as her own. Nobody 
knew whether the phantom was 2ifox or a spirit,^ 

Here is a story of a vindictive wer-fox, taken from the 
" Uji shui monogatari " : — 

" A samurai was on his way home one evening when he 
met a fox. Pursuing the animal, he sent an arrow into 
its loin. The fox howled loudly and limped quickly 
aw^ay through the grass towards the samurai's house. 
When the man saw the animal was breathing fire he 
hastened to overtake him, but was too late. The fox, 
on arriving at the house, assumed human shape and set 
fire to the building. Then the samurai pursued the 
culprit, whom he took to be a real man, but, resuming 
vulpine form, the animal disappeared into the thicket." 

A number of fox legends, which have been rendered 
into English by Dr. Visser, are found in the " Kokon 

The house of a Dainagon was haunted by a number of 
foxes, and was so impossible to live in that the owner 
decided to hold a battue. The very night he gave orders 
to this effect he saw a vision of a grey-haired old man, 
with the figure of a tall boy, wearing a green hunting 
dress, and seated under an orange tree in the garden. 
The owner asked the apparition's name, and he replied, 

^ See Visser, M. W. de, " The Fox and Badger in Japanese Folk- 
lore," 1908. 


" I have lived in your house for two generations and 
have a great number of children and grandchildren. I 
have always tried to keep them out of mischief but they 
never would listen. Now I am sorry because they have 
made you angry. If you will forgive the things my 
family have done, I will protect you and let you know 
whenever good luck is coming your way." 

Then the owner of the house awoke from his strange 
dream, rose and opened the door of the verandah. There 
he discovered in the dim morning light an old hairless 
fox, shyly trying to hide himself behind a bamboo bench. 

The tanuki, or badger, shares with the fox the reputa- 
tion for powers of transformation. This animal appeared 
in Japanese folklore later than the fox, but is often coupled 
with it in stories of animal sorcery. An old mountain 
lake was frequented by many water birds, but it was 
well known that whoever tried to shoot them was 
drowned in the lake. At last a man, who had more 
courage than the others, decided that this mysterious 
matter must be looked into. He went alone in the dark, 
armed with bow, arrows, and a sword, and when he 
reached the lake he sat down under a pine tree, bent his 
bow and waited. Suddenly the surface of the lake was 
disturbed, waves dashed on the shore and he saw a faint 
light in the centre. The ball of light moved about, 
coming closer and closer, and circling round him. He 
was about to shoot at it when it flew back over the lake. 
Presently it came close to him again, and in the centre he 
saw a grinning old hag, upon whom he seized. She tried 
to pull him into the lake, but could not manage to do so, 
for he stood like a rock and, having thrown down his 
bow, stabbed at her with his sword. She grew weaker 
and weaker and the light disappeared. Then she died, 
and he took home the animal shape which was left on his 
hands, and which proved to be an old tanuki. 

Another story of the tanuki is more like a ghost story 
than that of a wer-animal, and concerns a captain of the 
guards called Sukeyasu. When he was hunting in the 



province of Tamba he passed the night in an old chapel 
which the villagers warned him was haunted by a monster. 
As a snowstorm was raging he preferred to face the strange 
risk inside the chapel to a certain wetting in the open. 

He was half asleep when he heard a noise outside the 
chapel and peeping through a chink in the sliding door 
he saw a pitch-black priest, so tall that his head appeared 
to reach the eaves. The priest stretched a thin hairy 
arm through the chink in the door and stroked Sukeyasu's 
forehead, afterwards withdrawing his hand. The cap- 
tain was too frightened to move, but when the same thing 
was repeated he plucked up courage to grasp the hairy 
hand and hold it firmly. Then ensued a struggle and the 
door gave way. Sukeyasu came down on the top of the 
priest and as he pressed upon him with all his might he 
found his opponent growing smaller and smaller, and 
his arms thinner and thinner. The captain called his 
servants to his assistance and when a light was obtained 
it was found that the huge spook was in reality a tanuki. 
Next day the animal's head was shown to the villagers, 
and from that time the chapel was no longer haunted. 

An unsuccessful transformation into animal shape is 
the subject of another wer-fox story. A man left his 
house one evening in order to do some business in a 
neighbouring city, but to his wife's surprise he came 
back accompanied by a servant long before he was due, 
saying that he had accomplished his business satisfactorily. 
He was very tired and went to bed at once, but an old 
woman-servant in the house warned her mistress, saying 
that she had noticed something odd about the returned 
traveller, who was blind in the left eye, while her master 
was blind in the right eye. The wife then called to the 
sleeping man, saying she was ill, and asking him to get 
her some medicine. He did so, grumbling, and to the 
wife's astonishment, she saw that what the old woman 
said was true. Then when he lay down to sleep again she 
stabbed him to death, and he cried out like a fox, '' kon, 
kon, kwai — kwai." Then they beat to death the servant 


the wer-fox had brought with him, and found he was 
also a fox. The one who had taken the shape of the 
master had not trained himself carefully enough in the 
art of transformation. 

A very uncanny fox and badger story comes from an 
old Japanese source.^ Kugano Kendo was a clever 
doctor who lived in Yeddo. One day he was asked to 
go and see a patient in the country, and when he reached 
the house in question, which he had never before visited, 
he found that the master had gone out and he was asked 
to wait. A page-boy offered him some refreshments 
after his long journey, and when he was about to thank 
him for his attentions the boy turned away and, to the 
doctor's astonishment, he saw the page's face had 
utterly changed, becoming enormously long and narrow, 
with a small nose and big mouth and only one eye in the 
centre of the forehead. Suddenly the apparition van- 
ished. Though courageous by nature this struck the 
doctor as so extraordinary that he felt inclined to leave 
the strange house at once. However, he mastered his 
fears and soon the owner of the house returned. The 
doctor told him what he had seen and the master burst 
out laughing and said, " Oh, that boy has been at it 
again, has he ? He always frightens strangers. Did he 
pull a face like this ? " and suiting his actions to his 
words the man imitated the horrible expression, his 
face taking the same deformity of one eye in the centre 
of his forehead, and a foxy snout. 

This was too much for the doctor's equanimity. He 
ran to the front door and called his servants to prepare 
for the journey home. Then he found that all the 
servants had run away except one, and outside it was 
pitch-dark. The remaining servant said he could find 
a lantern, and presently he appeared out of the dark- 
ness with a light in his hand which fell full upon his 
features. To Kendo's intense horror he noticed the 
same transformation had taken place in the servant's 
1 The " Kwaidan toshiotoko," 1749. 


countenance as had appeared in the faces of the others, 
and this additional strain being too much for his nerves, 
he cried out and fell into a swoon. 

In the meantime the doctor's friends, growing anxious 
about his long absence, despatched a search party to 
find him, and among those who were sent were some of 
the servants who had accompanied him earlier in the 
evening. To their surprise, instead of the fine house 
they had already visited, they found only an old, dirty, 
tumbledown cottage, which the neighbours told them 
was always desolate and only inhabited by foxes and 
tanuki. Nobody dared to pass that way by night. After 
a long search Doctor Kendo was found lying face down- 
wards in a bamboo grove. Weeks passed before he 
recovered from his adventure. This story seems to throw 
a light on what may be called " the workings of trans- 
formation," as though a partial change were brought 
about by some hidden occult force glimmering through 
the human shape. 

The " Roo chawa "^ describes three kinds of strange 
wer-animals. Firstly thin ones, with emaciated features, 
red eyes, long trunks, legs the length of a horse, and a 
loud cry " like the tone of a bell." These are tanuki. 
The second variety has a round face, sharp nose, spotted 
skin and is bHnd in one eye. Thirdly, there are foxes 
with large ears, round eyes, pointed cheeks, wide mouths, 
but without a right arm I This sounds as though the 
description had been taken during the process of meta- 

The one-eyed beasts seem the most fearsome to en- 
counter in the dark. An ancient monastery was haunted 
by them. An old man, blind in one eye, arrived there 
as the priest was murmuring his prayers. He came near 
enough to stroke the devout man's face, but as he put 
out his hand to do so the priest protected himself with 
a knife and chopped off the arm, which proved to be the 
hairy leg of an old fox. 

1 1742. 


Another man who passed the night in the same monas- 
tery was disturbed by a number of puppy-dogs which 
ran in and out of the cloisters. Looking through a crack 
in an old door he saw a woman standing outside. He 
pierced her through the breast with his sword and she 
fled, bleeding profusely. A moment later a ball of light 
fell onto the ground, and when the man ran to see 
what it was, he found the same old witch. Again he 
struck at her with his sword and she fled, leaving another 
pool of blood. 

Next day an old one-eyed woman came to the mon- 
astery accompanied by a little girl and asked the abbot 
to read a mass at the funeral of her elder sister. 

The abbot, beHeving all was not right with these 
people, chased away the woman and child by threatening 
to strike them with a bamboo cane. That night the 
village was lit by burning torches and a crowd assembled 
to pray and read sutras. Temple gongs and kettle-drums 
resounded, and everyone knew that some mysterious 
ceremony was being held. The following morning the 
abbot sent to discover what had taken place and an old 
dead tanuki, as big as a calf, was dug out of the ground. 
It was found to be the witch that had been wounded in 
the monastery. This may be compared with the witch- 
cat stories of England in the following chapter. 

Fox-possession and fox-familiars are common beliefs 
among the Japanese ; women, weak men, and even 
children suffering from the idea of having been trans- 
formed into animals. They are cured by being made to 
snuff up smoke from a heap of burning refuse, or by 
drinking weak tea, or swallowing roasted leaves of a 
certain plant ; all these things being detested by foxes, 
and incidentally no doubt useful in cases of ordinary 
hysteria. Foxes which take the form of men and women 
soon resume vulpine shape when fumigated, bathed, or 
attacked by dogs. Even in the present day, fox-posses- 
sion has as great a hold on the imagination as in earlier 
centuries, but it is more widely ascribed to human sorcery. 


Certain sacred temples in Japan still attract crowds of 
pilgrims who believe that they are possessed by foxes 
and who come to these holy places to be cured.^ The 
bone of a tortoise's foot held in the left hand is pre- 
scribed as a tahsman against this fearsome spell— probably 
also many other of the formulae useful in cases of witch- 
craft would be found efficacious. 


Amongst the powers with which witches have been 
credited from time immemorial are those of transform- 
ing themselves into various kinds of animals, of trans- 
forming other people into animals and of sending forth 
so-called familiars in various animal shapes. Whether 
witches can change human beings into animals through 
sorcery is a question which has exercised the minds of 
hundreds of writers on demonology and witchcraft, 
amongst them, to mention a few at random, Bodin, 
Boguet, James I, Glanvill, Dr. Webster, Reginald Scott, 
his more famous namesake Sir Walter, and Charles 
Lamb. The last-named, in his essay on the subject, 
tells us that he was extremely inquisitive from his child- 
hood about witches and witch-stories, and that it should 
cause no wonder if the wicked, having been symbolised 
by a goat, should come sometimes in that body and 
" assert his metaphor."^ 

In the Middle Ages witches who were condemned to 
the stake, confessed to having taken the shapes of cats, 
hares, dogs, horses, and many other animals, being 
prompted to such changes by the devil, with whom they 
were in league. 

A witch trial took place at Lancaster on the loth of 
February, 1633, in which a batch of witches was accused 
of such dealings. 

Evidence was given by Edmund Robinson, son of 
Edmund Robinson, of Pendle forest, eleven years of age, 

1 "Essays of Elia," 1904, p. 128. 


at Padham, before Richard Shuttleworth and John 
Starkey, Justices of the Peace, " who upon oath inform- 
eth, being examined concerning the great meeting of 
the witches of Pendle, saith that upon All Saints-day 
last past, he, this informer being with one Henry Parker 
a near door-neighbour to him in Wheatley Cave, desired 
the said Parker to give him leave to gather some bulloes, 
which he did. In gathering whereof he saw two grey- 
hounds, namely a black and a brown ; one came running 
over the next field towards him, he verily thinking the 
one of them to be Mr. Nutter's and the other to be Mr. 
Robinson's, the said gentlemen then having suchlike. 
And saith the said greyhounds came to him, and fawned 
on him, they having about their necks either of them a 
collar, unto which was tied a string : which collars (as 
this informant affirmeth) did shine like gold. And he 
was thinking that some either of Mr. Nutter's or Mr. 
Robinson's family should have followed them, yet seeing 
nobody to follow them, he took the same greyhounds 
thinking to course with them. And presently a hare did 
rise very near before him. At the sight whereof he cried 
' Loo, Loo, Loo,' but the dogs would not run. Where- 
upon he being very angry took them and with the strings 
that were about their collars, tied them to a little bush 
at the next hedge, and, with a switch that he had in his 
hand, he beat them. And instead of the black grey- 
hound Dickenson's wife stood up, a neighbour whom 
this informer knoweth. And instead of the brown one 
a little boy whom this informant knoweth not. At which 
sight this informer being afraid, endeavoured to run 
away ; and being stayed by the woman, namely Dicken- 
son's wife, she put her hand into her pocket, and pulled 
forth a piece of silver much like to a fair shilling, and 
offered to give it him to hold his tongue and not tell : 
which he refused saying, ' Nay, thou art a witch.' Where- 
upon she put her hand into her pocket again, and pulled 
out a thing like unto a bridle that jingled, which she put 
on the little boy's head ; which said boy stood up in 


the likeness of a white horse, and in the brown grey- 
hound's stead. Then immediately Dickenson's wife took 
the informer before her upon the said horse and carried 
him to a new house called Hearthstones, being about a 
quarter of a mile off." Here the boy, Edmund Robinson, 
was witness to the extraordinary incidents of a feast of 
witches, all of which he recounted before the judges, 
and then his father, being called, gave evidence that he 
had sent his son to fetch home two kine, and as he did 
not return he went to seek him, finding him eventually 
" so affrighted and distracted that he neither knew his 
father, nor did he know where he was, and so continued 
very nearly a quarter of an hour before he came to him- 
self, when he told the above curious happenings."^ 

The seventeen Pendle forest witches condemned in 
Lancashire obtained a reprieve and were sent to London, 
where they were examined by His Majesty himself and 
the Council. 

A witch called Julian Cox, aged about seventy years, 
was indicted at Taunton, in Somerset, in 1663, for trans- 
forming herself into a hare and for other sorcery. 

The evidence given to prove that she was a witch 
was embodied in a narrative deposed to by Mr. Pool, a 
servant and officer in the court to Judge Archer, then 
Judge of Assizes at Taunton. 

" The first witness was a huntsman, who swore that he 
went out with a pack of hounds to hunt a hare, and not 
far from Julian Cox her house, he at last started a hare. 
The dogs hunted her very close, and the third ring 
hunted her in view, till at last the huntsman perceiving 
the hare almost spent, and making toward a great bush 
he ran on the other side of the bush to take her up, and 
preserve her from the dogs. But as soon as he laid hands 
on her, it proved to be Julian Cox, who had her head 
grovelling on the ground and her globes (as he expressed 
it) upward. He knowing her, was so affrighted that his 

^ Webster, Dr. John, " The Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft," 
"^^n^ pp. 347-9- 


hair on his head stood on end, and yet spake to her and 
asked her what brought her there ; but she was so far 
out of breath, that she could not make him any answer. 
His dogs also came up with full cry to recover the 
game and smelt at her, and so left off hunting any 
farther. And the huntsman went home presently, sadly 

In a report dated in the latter half of the nineteenth 
century on the state of the county prison at Dingwall, a 
statement was made by a fisherman who was imprisoned 
for assaulting a woman of sixty, whom he accused of 
bewitching everything he had. She prevented him from 
catching fish and caused his boat to upset. The other 
fishermen then refused to work with him as a companion. 
" She is known in all the neighbourhood to be a witch," 
he deposed. '^ She has been seen a hundred times milk- 
ing the cows in the shape of a hare, though I never saw 
her do it myself." 

" People believe that if anyone gets blood from a 
witch she can do them no more harm, and that is the 
reason I cut her with a knife, so that it might go into 
her as short a way as possible. All I wanted was to get 
blood," was his quaint way of putting it. 

The hare has always been closely associated with 
witches, and for this reason seems to be of evil augury, 
though in some parts of the country its foot, and some- 
times its head, are used as a protection against sorcery, 
perhaps on the homeopathic principle. 

The cat runs the hare very close in its association with 
witches, and is a handy animal for transformation pur- 
poses, being so frequently met with in this country. 

One of the most celebrated Scottish witch-cat trials 
took place at Caithness when Margaret Nin-Gilbert was 
interrogated on February 8, 1719, by William Innes, 
minister of Thurso, and confessed that she was travelling 
one evening when she was met by the devil in the like- 
ness of a man who " engaged her to take on with him," 

^ Glanvill, Joseph, " Sadducismus Triumphatus," 1726, p. 326. 


which she agreed to do. From that time she became 
famihar with him, and sometimes he appeared to her in 
the Hkeness of a huge black horse, sometimes riding a 
horse, sometimes Hke a black cloud, and again in the shape 
of a black hen. She apparently obtained the powers of 
a witch with the help of this apparition, and the use she 
made of them appears in the following story told by one 
William Montgomery, a mason, whose house was in- 
vaded by cats in such numbers that his wife and maid- 
servant could not endure to remain in the place. 

One night on Montgomery's return he found five cats 
by the fireside, and the servant told him they were 
" speaking among themselves." 

The cat-witch on the preceding November 28 had 
climbed in at a hole in a chest, and Montgomery watched 
his opportunity, intending to cut off her head when she 
should put it out of the hole. " Having fastened my 
sword on her neck," he continues, ** which cut her, nor 
could I hold her ; having (at length) opened the chest, 
my servant, William Geddes, having fixed my durk in 
her hinder quarters by which stroke she was fastened to 
the chest ; yet after all she escaped out of the chest with 
the durk in her hinder quarter, which continued there 
till I thought, by many strokes, I had killed her with my 
sword ; and having cast her out dead, she could not be 
found next morning." Four or five nights after, the 
servant cried out that the cats had come again, and 
Montgomery " wrapped his plaid about the cat and 
thrust the durk through her body, and having fixed the 
durk in the ground, I drove at her head with the back 
of an axe until she was dead, and being cast out could 
not be found next morning." 

He further declared that no drop of blood came from 
the cats, also that they did not belong to anyone in the 
neighbourhood, although one night he saw eight of them 
and took this to be witchcraft for certain. 

On February 12, Margaret Nin-Gilbert, who lived 
about half a mile from Montgomery's house, was seen by 


some of her neighbours to drop one of her legs at her 
own door, and she being suspected of witchcraft the leg, 
black and putrefied, was taken before the deputy Sheriff 
who immediately had the maimed woman arrested and 
imprisoned. By her own confession she admitted that 
she was bodily present at Montgomery's house " in the 
likeness of a feltered cat " and that Montgomery had 
broken her leg either with his durk or axe, which leg 
since had fallen off from the other part of her body. 
Also that one Margaret Olsone was also there in the 
likeness of a cat, and several other women, and that they 
were invisible because " the devil did hide and conceal 
them by raising a dark mist or fog to screen them from 
being seen.^ 

Sometimes the apparition of a witch as a cat foretells 

In 1607 a witch of the name of Isobel Grierson was 
burnt after being accused and convicted of entering the 
house of Adam Clark, in Prestonpans, in the likeness of 
his own cat and in the company of a mighty rabble of 
other cats, which by their noise frightened Adam, his 
wife, and their maid, the last-named being dragged up 
and down the stairs by the hair of her head, presumably 
by the devil in the shape of a black man. Isobel also 
visited the house of a certain Mr. Brown in the shape of 
a cat, but once being called upon by name she vanished, 
but Brown himself died of a disease she had laid upon 

In 1629 another Isobel, wife of George Smith, was 
indicted as follows : — 

''//^wsheresett Cristian Grinton, a witch in her house, 
whom the pannel's husband saw one night to come out 
at one hole in the roof, in the likeness of a cat, and there- 
after transform herself in her own likeness, whereupon 
the pannel told her husband that it should not fare well 

^ Extracted from the Wodrow MS., as printed in " An Historical 
Account of the Belief in Witchcraft in Scotland," by C. K. Sharpe, 
1884, pp. 180-94. 


with him, which fell out accordingly, for next day he 
fell down dead at the plough." ^ 

The witches of Vernon frequented an old castle in 
the shape of cats. Three or four brave men determined 
to pass the night in the stronghold, where they were 
assailed by the cats and one of them was killed, several 
of the others being hurt, and many of the cats received 
wounds. Afterwards the women were found to have 
returned to human shape and suffered from correspond- 
ing gashes. 

The witches of Vernon had their imitators in three 
witches of Strasburg who, in the disguise of huge cats, 
fell upon a workman. He defended himself courageously 
and chased away the cats, wounding them. They were 
found instantaneously transformed into women, badly 
hurt and in their beds. 

Another story describes how several cat-witches tor- 
mented a poor labourer, who, wearying of their persist- 
ence, drew his broadsword and sent the animals flying. 
One less nimble than the rest received a cut from the 
sword which severed one of its hind legs, when, to the 
labourer's amazement, he discovered on picking up the 
limb that it was human in shape, and next morning one 
of the old hags was discovered to have only one leg left. 
Similar stories of the '' repercussion " variety will be 
found in Chapter XVIII, but they have never been 
satisfactorily explained. 

M. Henri Gelin tells a good story of a witch who 
transformed herself into a dog.^ 

One winter evening dogs were barking all round a 
lonely house in Niort far more loudly than usual. The 
farmer rose from his bed and carefully opened the shut- 
ters. In the middle of the yard he saw a black and white 
greyhound, which apparently was enjoying itself molest- 
ing the other dogs, knocking them over with its paws 

^ Sharpe, C. K., " An Historical Account of the Belief in Witchcraft 
in Scotland," 1884, p. 98. 

2 " Legendes de Sorcellerie," 1898. 


without the least difficulty, and then picking them up 
in its jaws and throwing them to some distance as soon 
as they ventured within reach. The farmer drew on 
his trousers, into the seat of which his wife had sown a 
horse-chestnut as a talisman against witchcraft, loaded 
his gun and fired on the animal which fell dead. The 
next day he rose at an early hour to go and examine the 
corpse of his prey, and was greatly astonished to see the 
body of a beautiful woman dressed in gorgeous clothes 
lying in the very spot on which the dog was shot. Round 
her neck there hung a rich chain made of five strings of 
jewels bearing enamelled medallions beautifully chased, 
and on her fingers were a profusion of precious gems. 
In order to cover all traces of his involuntary murder, 
he quickly dug a hole in a corner of the yard and made a 
pile of faggots above the newly replaced earth. He had 
only just finished his task when a gentleman came into 
the yard, and asked whether he had seen a lady pass that 
way. From the particulars given, the farmer soon felt 
certain that the woman in question was the witch he 
had killed. Tremblingly he replied that he had not seen 
the lady. But a little dog that followed the gentleman 
ran to the heap of faggots and began turning them over, 
howling piteously. " You have killed my poor wife," 
cried the gentleman. " I am certain she came here." 
But he did not insist on looking into the pile, and 
presently withdrew, followed by the still whimpering 

A sheep is sometimes, but not frequently, chosen as a 
medium for transformation. 

A man who was returning late from the market at 
Verrieres in Poitou, met a lamb, which followed him 
bleating loudly, at the turn of a footpath crossing a 
lonely heath. " Poor thing," he said, " you might be 
devoured by a wolf," and, seizing the lamb by its four 
legs, he hoisted it on to his shoulders, so as to carry it 
conveniently. As he approached his house he found 
the animal began to weigh very heavily. At last he 

WITCHES 1 1 1 

arrived in a perspiration and put down his burden 
amongst the sheep which had already been penned in 
the fold. At dawn the next day, he went to look at his 
new lamb. But in the spot where he had placed it the 
evening before he found a huge demon, busy stitching 
straw soles into his shoes. The sorcerer had resumed 
human shape and, looking very foolish, begged that he 
would say nothing about his little adventure. But the 
man seized him by the shoulders, kicked him from behind 
and chucked him out of the pen, crying, '' Get out of 
this, you evil being." " If only he had made the slightest 
scratch from which the blood flowed," added the old 
lady who was telling the story, " the sorcerer would 
have been cured, and would no longer have been able to 
transform himself into an animal." 

Although witches are able to transform themselves 
into horses if they wish, they usually prefer to use their 
powers for transforming other people, and getting the 
benefit by riding their victims to death. 

Margaret Grant, a Scottish witch of the nineteenth 
century, believed that she was able to transform herself 
into various animals, and " avers that she was, at times, 
actually changed by evil-disposed persons into a pony 
or a hare and ridden for great distances, or hunted by 
dogs as the case might be." 

Joseph Glanvill in his " Sadducismus Triumphatus," 
tells the story of a " great army of witches " who were 
charged with performing a feat of horse-transformation 
on a large scale at Blocula in Sweden in 1669. 

A man may be transformed by a woman throwing a 
magic halter over his head while he is in bed. Then 
she mounts the horse, and rides to the witches' tryst. 
If, however, the man-horse can manage to slip the magic 
bridle off and throw it over her, she becomes a mare, 
and her victim mounts her and rides till she is exhausted. 

At Yarrowfoot a witch-mare, according to one story, 
was shod in the usual manner and afterwards sold to her 
own husband. To his surprise, when he removed the 


bridle, his wife stood before him in human form, wearing 
horseshoes on her hands and feet. 

There are many variants of this story, another woman 
having been found in bed with horseshoe attachments, 
and it is difficult to trace the origin of this fantastic idea. 

In the neighbourhood of Ostrel in Denmark a man 
served on a farm, the mistress of which, unknown to 
him, was a witch. Although she gave him good and 
wholesome food he never thrived, but became thinner 
every day. At this, being much troubled, he went 
to a wise man, to whom, he communicated his case. 
From this man he learnt that his mistress was a witch 
and that at night, while he slept, she transformed him 
into a horse, and rode upon him to Troms Church in 
Norway ; so that it was not to be wondered at that his 
strength decreased. The wise man at the same time 
gave him an ointment with which to rub his head at 
night, and said when he fell asleep he would have a 
violent itching on his head, and then he would wake up 
and see that he was standing outside Troms Church. 

The man did as he had been told, and on waking up 
the following night, he found that he was standing by 
the church, holding in his hand a bridle which he had 
torn off whilst scratching his head. Behind him he saw 
many horses bound together by each other's tails. 
Presently his mistress came out and cast a friendly look 
at him, but he nodded for her to come nearer, and when 
she stood by, he cast the bridle over her head and she 
became a handsome mare on the spot. He mounted 
and rode her home. On the way he called at a farrier's, 
and made him shoe the mare. When he reached home 
he told his master that he had been out to buy a fine 
mare, which would go handsomely in harness with one 
already in the stables. The master paid him a good 
round sum for the animal, but when he took off its bridle, 
there stood his wife with horseshoes on her hands and 
feet. He turned her straight out of doors, but she never 
managed to get rid of the horseshoes. 


When St. Macarius encountered a poor old woman 
who had been changed into a horse, he restored her to 
human shape by sprinkling holy water over her. The 
same saint acted mercifully in another case of trans- 

A young girl refused to do the bidding of the man who 
asked her to be his wife. He was so infuriated by her 
refusal that he arranged with a wizard to turn her into a 
stoat. A wise man, endeavouring to explain this incident, 
says, " This was not a genuine transformation, but was 
an illusion of the devil, who so affected the imagination 
of the girl and the bystanders, that she appeared to them 
in the form of a stoat, although she was still a woman in 

The victim of the enchantment was then taken before 
the holy man of the name of Macarius, who, on account of 
his saintliness, could not suffer deception of the devil's 
wiles. He looked upon the maiden and saw that she was 
a human being and no stoat, and thus, uttering a prayer, 
freed her from the spell. This cure is of the hypnotic 
variety, in which several people are under the mental 
spell of one other. 

Reginald Scott tells the story of a woman who sold an 
egg to a man who, when eating it, speedily turned into 
an ass. For three years she rode the animal to market. 
It was in the pity of Salamin in Cyprus where a ship 
arrived laden with merchandise. Many of the sailors 
went ashore in the hope of procuring fresh provisions. 
A certain sturdy young Englishman went to a woman's 
shop some little way from the town, to see whether she 
could let him have some new-laid eggs. She promised 
to do so and went off to fetch them, but she was away 
so long that the young sailor called out that she must 
please make haste, as the tide was going out and he 
might be left behind when his ship set sail. At last she 
came out with the eggs and told him to come back to 
her house if the ship had gone. The sailor made the best 
of his way back to the vessel, but being hungry, ate an 


egg on the way. He was then struck dumb and his wits 
seemed to have left him. When he reached the side of 
the vessel and tried to go aboard, the mariners beat him 
back with cudgels crying, " What lacks the ass ? " and 
" Whither the devil does the ass want to come ? " Then 
the sailor realised that he had been bewitched by the 
woman's eggs he had eaten, and had turned into a 
donkey. Finding it impossible to board the ship and 
remembering the witch's words, he went back to her 
house and there served her for the space of three years, 
carrying the burdens she laid on his back.^ Here no 
doubt the egg is used merely as an instrument for in- 
ducing a certain frame of mind in the victim. It may 
be presumed that the witch's words of suggestion were 
equally necessary in bringing about the transformation. 

The sorceress Meroc in " The Metamorphosis or 
Golden Ass of Apuleius," had the power to change, by 
one word only, her lover into a beaver. " She likewise 
changed into a frog an innkeeper who was her neighbour 
and of whom she was on that account envious, and now 
that old man, swimming in a tub of his own wine, and 
merged in the dregs of it, calls on his ancient guests with 
a hoarse and courteously croaking voice." 

" She likewise changed one of the advocates of the 
court into a ram because he had declaimed against her, 
and now that ram pleads causes."^ 

M. Henri Gelin, whose researches on Poitevin legends 
and folklore are very valuable,^ discusses the conditions 
under which metamorphosis takes place, saying it is 
entirely involuntary and is the result of an agreement 
entered into with infernal powers. The soul of the 
sorcerer is supposed to remain in a state of distinct 
entity. But the narrators of these stories have done 
little to make clear the actual process which takes place 
when the transformation occurs of a man into a wolf, a 

1 Scott, Reginald, "The Discovery of Witchcraft," 1886, pp. 75-6. 

2 " The Metamorphosis or Golden Ass of Apuleius," 1822, pp. 7-8. 

3 Gelin, H., " Legendes de Sorcellerie," 1898. 


sheep, or a colt, or a woman (who seems to be credited 
with gentler characteristics) into a goat, a bitch, or a 
hind. Perhaps the human body remains temporarily 
deprived of its soul, which, entering a new shape, sub- 
stitutes itself for the obscure and undeveloped soul of the 
animal, or perhaps the wizard's body enjoys the faculty 
of anatomically modifying its organs, and varying its 
aspects something in the manner of the caterpillar which 
turns into a moth. Who shall say ? 

A shepherdess in the district of Niort noticed when 
driving her flock home that it had become augmented 
by the presence of a black sheep, the origin of which she 
could not trace. She penned up the extra animal with 
her own in the shed, and bolted the door, rejoicing at 
the addition to her flock. But as soon as night had 
fallen, a woman's voice was heard singing in the sheep's 
shed. The tune was a plaintive one, interspersed now 
and again with strident and prolonged laughter. Not 
one of the servants or neighbours dared to open the shed 
and face the flock to see who could be singing like that. 
In hushed voices they said " It's a witch ! " The next 
day at the usual hour of departure, the shepherdess, in 
great dread of what she might see, partly opened the 
shed door. The black sheep rushed Hke a whirlwind into 
the open and was gone. Now and again, however, the 
apparition returned to the farm in the shape of a woman, 
clapping her hands and laughing loudly as though to 
mock at the people who had allowed her to escape so 

The following legend of a white hind comes from the 
same district, Souche, two miles from Niort. Its 
peculiar characteristic is that the young girl, who com- 
plains to her mother about the hounds chasing her, 
appears to be quite aware of what is happening to her 
in her dual personality of woman and hind at the same 
moment, an important detail when regarded in the light 
of scientific occultism. 

The story is told by Gelin and is very popular in 


Poitou. The heroine is a girl by day and a white hind 
by night. The pack of hounds belonging to her brother 
Renaud chase her in the forest. She complains of this 
to her mother who begs Renaud to call back the pack. 
But it is too late. The white hind is captured and killed. 
Her palpitating flesh is stripped from the carcase and 
prepared as a dish of venison, and next day when the 
guests sit down to the feast, they are terrified to hear a 
woman's voice which they recognise as that of their 
absent sister, murmuring, '* Alas ! my breasts are lying 
on platters of gold." Then, raising her tone, she an- 
nounces that Renaud's soul is forfeit and that his name 
is written up on the gates of hell. At the sound of her 
words Renaud falls down dead and his mother goes off 
in a swoon. 

" La Blanche Biche," as the story is called in the 
original, is told in verse which may be rendered roughly 
as follows : — 

Afar in the fields dwell a mother and daughter, 

The mother sings on, but the fair maid sighs. 

" For what do you sigh, my dear Angelique ? " 

" I sigh in great need, for my heart is sad. 

In the day I'm a maid, but at night a white hind. 

The hounds are upon me and hunters as well. 

And the worst pack of all is my brother's pack. 

Go forth, mother dear, to his castle and say, 

He must call back the hounds and the hunters too." 

Then the mother puts her distaff aside 

And runs to the castle of Renaud, her son, 

To tell him to stay his hounds and his men. 

" But my hounds, mother, are after the white hind now." 

" Call them back, Renaud, for sweet Angelique 

Dwells in the shape of that same white hind." 

Then Renaud seizes his hunter's horn, 

But before he can blow two blasts loud and clear. 

The white hind is taken and brought by the hounds 

To the castle kitchen, where, seized by the cook, 

Its joints are severed, its flesh is sliced ; 

And a shout comes from the castle hall, 

" Set a fine feast for us all to-night, 

For a number of guests will honour our house, 


All but our sister, the fair Angelique." 
Then the smoking dishes appear on the board, 
And the guests turn longing eyes on the feast, 
When a plaintive sigh is heard through the hall, 
And a woman's sad voice rings out in a shriek, 
That curdles the blood of the waiting guests. 
" My breasts are lying on platters of gold, 
My heart's on the spit, and it groans and it moans, 
My bright eyes, embedded in pastry, grow dim ; 
But my soul dwells vdth angels in paradise, 
And that of my brother is destined for hell ! " 
At these terrible words, from invisible source, 
Renaud starts up ! Then falls back — stone dead. 
While his mother slips under the board in a swoon. 

This is a far more harrowing story than the Yorkshire 
legend of a woman who turns into a white doe, which is 
found in Wordsworth's " The White Doe of Rylstone." 

When Lady Aihza mourned 

Her son, and felt in her despair, 

The pang of unavailing prayer ; 

Her son in Wharf's abysses drowned, 

The noble boy of Egremound, 

From which afHiction, when God's grace 

At length had in her heart found place, 

A pious structure fair to see, 

Rose up this stately priory ! 

The lady's work, — but now laid low ; 

To the grief of her soul that doth come and go, 

In the beautiful form of this innocent doe : 

Which though seemingly doomed in its breast to sustain 

A softened remembrance of sorrow and pain, 

Is spotless, and holy, and gentle and bright — 

And glides o'er the earth like an angel of Hght. 

Burke has a very different version of the famous and 
spotless White Doe of Rylstone,^ the animal being 
gifted with human faculties rather than appearing in 
human form, and the story having some affinity with those 
of the fairy-godmother class. This beautiful white doe 
belonged to Emily, the only daughter of Richard Norton 

^ "Anecdotes of the Aristocracy," 1849, pp. 152-81. 


of Rylstone, who had nine warrior sons. The youngest 
of them, Edward by name, had made a present of the 
doe to his sister and the animal was called Blanche on 
account of her spotless white skin. She followed her 
young mistress everywhere and was like a human com- 
panion. So great was her intelligence that she was 
thought to be a benevolent witch or fairy, perhaps 
rather a sprite bewitched in animal form. 

One day she leads her mistress a long way from home, 
to a spot beside a brooklet which is held by the people 
of the neighbourhood to be haunted. Having reached 
the desired destination, the doe lies down to rest and 
Emily does likewise. Presently she falls into a kind of 
dream, in which it seems to her that the brook boils and 
bubbles up and a wraith of mist rises on the surface which 
gradually takes the shape and outlines of a beautiful 

This spirit warns Emily in a vision of coming disaster 
to her beloved father and eight of her brothers. She 
sees them done to death by the axe. Meanwhile the doe 
lies immovable in a kind of trance and it may well be 
thought that her real womanly self is seen by Emily in 
its natural shape. 

Soon afterwards Emily is informed by Edward that 
her father and eight of her brothers are on the point of 
breaking out into open rebellion against the Sovereign of 
England and that it is necessary for him to join them, 
although doing so goes against his convictions, as he is 
loyal to Queen Elizabeth. Nothing that Emily can do or 
say dissuades him from his decision, and she parts from 
him in great grief. 

At first the rebels succeed in their projects, but 
presently their attacks fail and they are forced to retreat. 
A rumour reaches Emily that all the Nortons have been 
captured and condemned to death and that the rebellion 
is over. 

In the hope of saving her father and brothers, Emily 
sets out, accompanied by Blanche, to sue Queen Eliza- 


beth for pardon on behalf of her relatives. On the long 
and perilous journey to Court, Blanche again acts as her 
adviser, and gives her almost human help in moments of 
difficulty, and so charmed is the Queen by the beauty of 
the suppliant and her intelligent animal comrade, that 
she sends Lord Leicester post-haste to York v^ith a 
reprieve for the Nortons. 

Unfortunately the messenger arrives too late to save 
any member of the family except the youngest son, 
Edward, Emily's favourite, and thus the beautiful human 
doe is instrumental in saving him, at least, from the 



From witch stories it is only a short step to stories about 
witches' familiars, for nearly all sorcerers are gifted with 
the power of sending out a spirit or second soul to do 
the work of the evil one. A distinction has therefore 
to be made between the witch in animal form and the 
external soul of the witch sent forth in the shape of an 
animal while she retains her human appearance. 

The " familiar " or " imp," whether a real animal or 
spirit in animal form, stands ever ready at the sorcerer's 
elbow waiting to do his bidding. The " life " of the 
familiar is bound up with that of the witch, and if the 
former be wounded, the latter will suffer from an injury 
in a corresponding part of the body. Death to the 
familiar means death to the witch, and the way to get 
rid of the spell is to kill the double of the witch. To 
this class belong some of the most interesting phenomena, 
as well as the most inexplicable, dealing with the human 
animal theory. 

In one case a blue butterfly was seen to flutter over 
a certain farm, and as affairs there had not been going 
at all well, it was looked upon with dread and suspicion 
as the bringer of evil. For three weeks the insect hovered 
about and during that period " no butter came." Then 
the farmer decided to take steps to break the enchant- 
ment. Armed with a wet towel he sallied forth to chase 
the alleged familiar and, cleverly flapping his cloth, he 
brought down the butterfly at a swoop. Precisely at that 
moment a woman, who was suspected of being a witch, 

1 20 


was found lying dead outside the door of her house close 
by, and after the double event there was no further 
trouble with the churning. 

Matthew Hopkins of Manningtree, Essex, a witch- 
finder of ill-fame, was the cause of bringing thousands of 
supposed witches to judgment and so to the stake. He 
was paid 20s. in each town he visited and managed to 
rid of its suspicious characters, and he appears to have 
found his profession extraordinarily lucrative. In 1644 
he was commissioned by Parliament to make a circuit 
through several counties with a view to discovering 
witches. He travelled in the company of several boon 
companions for three years and was instrumental in 
having sixteen persons hanged at Yarmouth, forty at 
Bury and at least sixty in other parts of Suifolk, Norfolk 
and Huntingdonshire. 

During a notorious trial of a number of witches at 
Chelmsford, Essex, on July 29th, 1645, Hopkins made a 
deposition about an alleged witch, Elizabeth Clarke, 
who confessed that she had known the devil intimately 
for more than six years and that he visited her between 
three and five times a week. She invited Hopkins and 
his companions, one of whom was a man called Sterne, 
to stay at her house for a time until she could call up 
one of her white imps for them to see. Presently there 
appeared on the scene an imp like a dog, white and with 
sandy spots, which seemed to be very fat and plump, with 
short legs. The animal forthwith vanished away. The 
said Elizabeth gave the name of this imp as Jarmara. 
And immediately afterwards there appeared another 
imp, which she called Vinegar Tom, in the shape of a 
greyhound with long legs. The said Elizabeth then 
remarked that the next imp should be black in colour 
and that it should come for Master Sterne (the other 
witness already mentioned), and it appeared as she 
promised, but presently vanished without leaving a sign. 
The last imp of all to come before the spectators was a 
creature in the shape of a polecat, but the head some- 


what bigger. The said Elizabeth then disclosed to the 
informant that she had five imps of her own. And two 
other imps with which she had dealings belonged to a 
certain Beldame Anne West.^ 

The said Matthew Hopkins, when going from the 
house of a Mr. Edwards of Manningtree, to his own 
house, one night between nine and ten o'clock, accom- 
panied by his favourite greyhound, noticed the dog give 
a sudden leap and run off as though in full course after a 
hare. Hastening to see what the greyhound pursued so 
eagerly, he espied a white thing about the size of a kitten, 
and the panting dog was standing aloof from the creature. 
By and by the imp or kitten began to dance about and 
around the said greyhound and, viciously approaching 
him, bit or tore a piece of flesh off the dog's shoulder. 

Coming later into his own yard, the informant saw a 
black thing proportioned like a cat, only that it was 
thrice as big, sitting on a strawberry bed and fixing its 
luminous eyes on him. But when he went towards it, it 
leaped suddenly over the palings and ran towards the 
informant as he thought, but instead, it fled through the 
yard with his greyhound in hot pursuit after it to a 
great gate which was " underset with a pair of tumbrell 
strings," and it did throw the said gate wide open and 
then vanished. And the said greyhound returned again 
to the informant shaking and trembling exceedingly. 

Sterne gave evidence on the same day, and much to 
the same effect, but said that the white imp was like a 
cat but not so big, and when he asked Elizabeth whether 
she was not afraid of her imps she answered, " What ! 
do you think I am afraid of my children ? " and she called 
the imp Jarmara as having red spots, and spoke of two 
more called Sack and Sugar. Four other witnesses con- 
firmed the story practically in its entirety. 

Elizabeth Clarke herself gave evidence then, and said 
Anne West had sent her a " thing like a little kitlyn," 

^ The description of these imps tallies remarkably closely with that 
of some animal-elements seen by occulists to-day. 


which would obtain food for her. Two or three nights 
after this promise, a white thing came to her in the night, 
and the night after a grey one spoke to her and said it 
would do her no hurt and would help her to get a husband. 
After various charges against the said Elizabeth Clarke and 
her accomplice, Elizabeth Gooding, Anne Leech, a third 
woman accused of witchcraft, deposed on April 14th 
that she and the other two accused sent their respective 
grey, black and white imps to kill cattle belonging to 
various neighbours, and that later they had sent them 
to kill neighbours' children and she added that her imps 
spoke to her in a hollow voice which she plainly under- 
stood, and that these accused witches had met together 
at the house of the said Elizabeth Clarke, when a book 
was read " wherein she thinks there was no goodness." 

Another woman suspected of witchcraft was Helen 
Clark who confessed on April nth that the devil had 
appeared to her in the likeness of a white dog, and that 
she called her familiar Elimanzer and that she fed him 
with milk-pottage and that he spoke to her audibly and 
bade her deny Christ. 

With the witch Anne West was implicated her daughter 
Rebecca West, who, however, was acquitted, and the 
notorious Matthew Hopkins deposed that she had told 
him of visiting the house of Clarke with her mother, 
and that they had found Leech, Gooding, and Helen 
Clark, and that the devil had appeared in the shape of a 
dog, afterwards in the shape of two kittens, then in the 
shape of two dogs, and that the said familiars did homage 
in the first place to the said Elizabeth Clarke and slipped 
up into her lap and kissed her, and then went and kissed 
all that were in the room except the said Rebecca, who 
' was then made to swear on a book that she would not 
reveal what she saw or heard — on pain of the torments 
of hell, and that afterwards the devil came and kissed 
her and promised to marry her, and she sent him to kill 
a neighbour's child, of the name of Hart, who died 
within a fortnight. 


Susan Sparrow, who gave her evidence on the 25th of 
April, said that the house in which she hved with one 
Mary Greenleif, was haunted by a leveret which usually 
came and sat before the door, which, when coursed by a 
dog, never stirred, " and just when the dog came at it, 
he skipped over it and turned about and stood still, and 
looked on it, and shortly after that the dog languished 
and died." 

Another of the witches, called Margaret Moone, had 
a familiar " in the likeness of a rat for bigness and shape, 
but of a greyer colour." She confessed to two of the 
witnesses that she had twelve imps and called these by 
such names as Jesus, Jockey, Mounsier, Sandy, Mrs. 
Elizabeth, and Collyn, etc. Moone was a " woman of 
very bad fame," who confessed to many crimes, especi- 
ally of causing the death of animals and children. 

Rose Hallybread, who died in gaol before execution, 
was accused of being implicated with Joyce Boanes in 
sending four familiars to the house of a carpenter, 
Robert Turner, whose servant was then taken sick and 
" crowed perfectly like a cock, sometimes barked like a 
dog," sang tunes, groaned, and struggled with such 
strength that five strong men were needed to hold him. 
Boanes confessed that her imp made the victim bark 
like a dog, Hallybread's imp caused him '' to sing sundry 
tunes in great extremity of pains," and Susan Cork 
compelled him to crow. The torture was inflicted 
because Turner's servant had refused to give Susan Cork 
a sack full of chips. 

Anne Cate, another of the witches who was executed 
at Chelmsford, said she had three familiars like mice 
and a fourth like a sparrow. They were called James, 
Prickeare, Robyn, and Sparrow, and she sent them to 
kill both cattle and human beings. 

It was thought impossible to kill these familiars, and 
one Goff, a glover and very honest man of Manningtree, 
confessed to passing Anne West's house about four 
o'clock on a moonlight morning and seeing her door 


was open, he looked into the house. " Presently there 
came three or four little things in the shape of black 
rabbits leaping and skipping about him, who, having a 
good stick in his hand, struck at them thinking to kill 
them, but could not, but at last caught one of them in 
his hand, and holding it by the body, he beat the head 
of it against his stick, intending to beat the brains out 
of it ; but when he could not kill it that way, he took 
the body in one hand and the head in another and en- 
deavoured to wring off the head, and as he wrung and 
stretched the neck of it, it came out between his hands 
like a lock of wool." Then he tried to drown it in a 
spring, but kept falling down. At last he crept to the 
water on hands and knees, holding the familiar under the 
water for a good space. But as soon as he let go it 
sprang out of the water up into the air and so vanished. 

He went and asked Anne West why she had set her 
imps on him to molest and trouble him, but she said 
" they were sent out as scouts upon another design."^ 

Joan Cariden, widow, examined September 25, 1645, 
said, that about three-quarters of a year ago, as she was 
in bed about twelve or one of the clock in the night 
there lay a rugged soft thing on her bosom which was 
very soft, and she thrust it off with her hand ; and she 
said that when she had thrust it away she thought God 
forsook her, for she could never pray so well as she could 
before, and further she said that she verily thought it 
was alive. Examined further, she said the Devil came to 
her in the shape of a black rugged dog in the night-time 
and crept into bed with her and spoke to her in mumbling 
language. The next night he came again and required 
her to deny God and lean on him. 

Jane Hott, widow and associate of the above, also 
examined on September 25, 1645, confessed that a thing 
like a hedgehog had usually visited her, and when it lay 

^ " A True and exact Relation of the several informations, examinations 
and confessions of the late Witches arraigned and executed in the County 
of Essex." Reprinted from the original of 1645, 1837, pp. iv, 34. 


on her breast she struck it off with her hand, and that it 
was as soft as a cat. 

In 1664 one Elizabeth Style, a widow, of Bayford, was 
examined at Stoke Trister, Somerset, before Robert 
Hunt, for witchcraft. 

One of the witnesses, Nicholas Lambert, examined on 
January 26 of that year, deposed to having watched the 
prisoner in company with William Thick and WiUiam 
Read of Bayford. The informant sat near the prisoner 
by the fire at three o'clock in the morning and was 
reading " The Practice of Piety," when he noticed 
" there came from her head a glistening bright fly about 
an inch in length, which pitched at first in the chimney 
and then vanished. In less than a quarter of an hour 
after, there appeared two flies more, of a less size and 
another colour, which seemed to strike at the informant's 
hand in which he held his book, but missed it. He looked 
steadfastly at the prisoner and perceived her counten- 
ance to change and to become very black and ghastly, 
the fire also at the same time changing its colour ; where- 
upon the informants. Thick and Read, conceiving that 
her familiar was then about her, looked at her poll, and 
seeing her hair shake very strangely, took it up, and then 
a fly like a great Millar flew out from the place and 
pitched on the table board and then vanished away." 
When asked what it was that flew out of her poll the 
accused said it was a butterfly, and asked them why 
they had not caught it. She confessed that it was her 
famiHar and that was the usual time when her famihar 
came to her.^ 

One Ahce Duke, alias Manning, of Wincanton, in 
Somerset, who was tried in 1664 for witchcraft, con- 
fessed that her famiHar visited her " in the shape of a 
little cat of a dunnish colour, which is as smooth as a 
want," and that " her familiar doth commonly suck 
her right breast about seven at night," when she fell 
into a kind of trance. 

^ Glanvill, Joseph, " Sadducismus Triumphatus," 1726, p. 300. 


Margaret and Phillip Flower, daughters of Joan Flower, 
were tried for witchcraft near Belvoir Castle and executed 
at Lincoln on March 11, 1618, on the most extraordinary 

Phillip Flower, examined on the 4th of February 
previously, said that her mother and sister " maliced " 
the Earl of Rutland, his Countess and their children, 
because her sister Margaret was put out of the ladies' 
service of laundry. Phillip thereupon brought from the 
Castle the right glove of the Henry Lord Ross and gave 
it to her mother, " who presently rubbed it on the back 
of her spirit Rutterkin, and then put it into hot boiling 
water, afterwards she pricked it often and buried it in 
the yard, wishing Lord Ross might never thrive, and so 
her sister Margaret continued with her mother, where 
she often saw the cat Rutterkin leap on her shoulder and 
suck her neck." 

Margaret corroborated the story, and added that 
after the sorcery Lord Ross fell sick within a week. She 
also said that her mother and she and her sister agreed 
to bewitch the Earl and Countess so that they might 
have no more children, being angry with the Countess 
for telling her she was no longer to live at the Castle, and 
who, giving her forty shillings, a bolster and a mattress, 
bade her sleep at home. 

Then she took wool from the mattress and a pair of 
gloves given her by one of the Castle servants and put 
them into warm water, mingling them with some blood 
and stirring it together. Then she took the wool and 
gloves out of the water and rubbed them on the body of 
Rutterkin, the cat, saying the Lord and Lady should 
have no more children or it should be long first. 

She further confessed that her mother told her to 
bring a piece of Lady Katherine's — the earl's daughter's 
— kerchief, and her mother put it in hot water and taking 

^ " The Wonderful discovery of the Witchcrafts of Margaret and 
PhilHp Flower, daughters of Joan Flower near Beuer Castle, executed at 
Lincolne, March 11, 1618." Printed London, 1619. 


it out rubbed it on Rutterkin, " bidding him fly and go." 
Whereupon Rutterkin whined and cried '' mew," and 
she said Rutterkin had no power to hurt Lady Katherine. 

Examined on the 25th of February, before Francis 
Earl of Rutland, Francis Lord Willoughby of Eresby, 
Sir George Manners, and Sir William Pelham, Phillip 
Flower confessed to having a familiar spirit in the form 
of a white rat, and gave her soul to it, and it promised 
to do her good and cause one Thomas Simpson to love 

The mother of these girls, Margaret Flower, being 
examined at the same time and place, confessed to two 
familiar spirits, one white and the other spotted black. 

She further said she had been visited in Lincoln gaol 
by four devils, between eleven o'clock and midnight, 
about the 30th January. One stood at the foot of her 
bed, with a black head like an ape, and spoke to her, 
though she could not understand his meaning. The 
other three were the cat Rutterkin, Little Robin, and 
Spirit. She confirmed what her daughters had said about 
Lord Ross, and said that after she rubbed the glove on 
the spirit Rutterkin she threw it into the fire and burnt 

One of the witnesses, Anne Baker of Rothsford, who 
was concerned in the case of the death of Lord Ross, 
son of the Earl of Rutland, when examined on March 
1st, 161 8, by the Earl and Sir George Manners and 
Samuel Fleming, Doctor of Divinity, made the following 
curious statements in the course of her confession of 

She said she saw a hand appear to her and heard a 
voice in the air say *' Anne Baker, save thyself, for to- 
morrow thou and thy master must be slain," and the 
next day her master and she were in a cart together and 
suddenly she saw a flash of fire, and said her prayers, and 
the fire went away, and shortly after a crow came and 
perched upon her clothes, and she said her prayers again 
and bade the crow to go to whom he was sent, and the crow 


went to her master and did beat him to death, and she 
with her prayers recovered him to hfe, but he was sick a 
fortnight after, and if she had not had more knowledge 
than he, both of them, and the cattle, would have been 

Another witness at the same trial, Joan Willimott, 
confessed to having a spirit she called Pretty, and she 
declared that a shepherd, Gamaliel Greete, had a spirit 
like a white mouse put into him in his swearing ; and 
that if he did look upon anything with an intent to hurt 
it it should be hurt, and she said further that in the 
home of the Flowers she had seen two spirits, one like 
a rat and the other like an owl. 

The basic belief that it is possible to send forth a 
familiar to wreak harm on others is found fully de- 
veloped in black magic, and to such occult powers no 
doubt many strange phenomena may be attributed. 

A peculiarly uncanny story about a witch and her 
familiar comes from Poitou. A young man who lived 
near Champdenois, went to spend the evening with 
some friends. He was jumping over a stone fence which 
separated the neighbouring estates, when a familiar 
settled on his back. The young man caught hold of the 
demon with all his strength and strangled him, flinging 
him on the ground, where he lay apparently lifeless. 
Curiosity induced the young man to lift the inert body 
on to his shoulders, as he wished to look at it by candle- 
light and show it to his friends. 

When he arrived at his friends' house the inmates were 
sitting in a circle about the hearth and the mistress of 
the house was spinning, surrounded by her maids. They 
all looked wonderingly at the demon, but the mistress 
appeared to be strangely ill at ease. 

'' I believe," said the young fellow, " it's a sorcerer. 
There's only one way of finding out. We'll put it in 
the fire, then we shall know what sort of being it is." 

When she heard this cruel suggestion the mistress 
gripped the arms of her chair in obvious anxiety and let 


her spindle drop to the ground, saying she was feeling 
very ill. When the demon was put on to the glowing 
cinders she shrieked out and was forced to confess, in a 
shamefaced manner, that she had been wandering in the 
woods that evening in the shape of an animal, and that 
the young man had captured her double. Whether this 
witch intended to work harm is not divulged. 

The Kaju wizards make familiars by digging up a 
corpse and giving it medicine, which restores it to life. 
They run a hot needle up the back of the head and slit 
the tongue. The familiar then speaks with inarticulate 
sound and is sent out by them to do harm. This is 
probably another form of ritual akin to black magic. 

A beautiful enchantress and priestess lived among the 
natives of Nicaragua and was served by many animals 
over whom she had extraordinary powers. She also had 
in her service an old man and woman. She transformed 
them into youthful beings, with large expanding pinions, 
and clothed them in tiger- and deer-skins, adorned with 
richly coloured plumage. 

Another and more exalted form of the familiar was 
the Daemon or Genius, a kind of spirit which, according 
to the beliefs of the ancients, presided over the actions 
of mankind. Man was thus said to have a good and an 
evil presiding spirit. The genius of Socrates, for in- 
stance, constantly gave him information and kept him 
from the commission of crime or impiety. 



In folk-lore and mythological legends all animals are 
originally human and most human beings are able to 
turn into animals. Women who married tigers, women 
who gave birth to serpents, men who became goats, 
cows or sheep, frog-princes and monkey-servants, abound 
in the standard fairy-tales of almost every country. 

Grecian women are said to change their cold lovers 
into donkeys, Persian princesses, on the contrary, cause 
their too passionate adorers to metamorphose into 
numerous animal shapes and Circe, disgusted with the 
depraved conduct of the companions of Ulysses, changed 
them into swine and shut them up in sties. The story 
of Circe typifies, of course, the fact that man's lower 
nature is the animal part of him, and the story of 
Malec Muhammed, which follows, points the same 

A repetition of the well-known Circe story needs no 
apology in a book which deals at length with the subject 
of transformation. Circe was the daughter of Sol and 
Perse, and was celebrated for her skill in magic. She 
married a prince of Colchis, and then murdered him to 
obtain his kingdom. Being expelled by her subjects for 
her crime, she was carried away by her father to Aea, an 
island on the coast of Italy, which Ulysses visited on his 
return from the Trojan War. His companions, giving 
way to excess, were changed into swine by Circe's magic 
potions. Ulysses was himself made immune from her 
spells by a herb called Moly, given to him by the god 




Mercury, and he demanded that his companions should 
be restored. Circe comphed with his request. Eury- 
lochus and his companions found Circe's palace in an 
open space in a wood, and Ulysses had the following 
account from the lips of Eurylochus : — 

" All about were wolves and lions," he said, " yet 
these harmed not the men, but stood up on their hind- 
legs, fawning upon them, as dogs fawn upon their master 
when he comes from his meal, because he brings the 
fragments with him that they love. And the men were 
afraid. And they stood in the porch and heard the voice 
of Circe as she sang with a lovely voice and plied the 
loom. Then said Polites (who was dearest of all his 
comrades to Ulysses), ' Someone within plies a loom, 
and sings with a loud voice. Some goddess is she, or 
woman. Let us make haste and call.' 

'' So they called to her, and she came out and beckoned 
to them that they should follow. So they went, in 
their folly. And she bade them sit, and mixed for them 
a mess, red wine, and in it barley meal and cheese and 
honey, and mighty drugs withal, of which, if a man 
drank, he forgot all that he loved. And when they had 
drunk she smote them with her wand. And lo ! they had 
of a sudden the heads and the voices and the bristles of 
swine, but the heart of a man was in them still. And 
Circe shut them in sties, gave them mast and acorns and 
cornel to eat." 

And Eurylochus fled back to the ship to tell Ulysses 
what had befallen his comrades. ^ 

Circe also changed Picus into a bird, when he did not 
respond to her advances. 

When love from Picus Circe could not gain 
Him with her charming wand and hellish bane 
Changed to a bird and spots his speckled wings 
With sundry colours . . . 

1 Homer, "The Story of the Odyssey." People's Edition, 1902, 
pp. 51-2. 


Geti Afraz, the heroine of a typical Eastern trans- 
formation story, on the other hand, changes Malec 
Muhammed the moment he grows too ardent in his 

One day when Malec was on his travels, he arrived at 
the city of EkbaHa and took up his lodging in a caravan- 

At dusk that evening he saw a remarkable illumination 
in the sky and heard intoxicating music. Presently a 
procession of beautifully dressed people passed by, and 
he caught a glimpse of a lovely princess. " Who is 
she' ? " he asked of the neighbours. " Geti Afraz, daughter 
of the King of the Peris, is riding through the city," 
they answered. " Her palace is close by." 

Entranced by the beauty of her appearance, Malec 
Muhammed inquired whether she received visitors. 
"Yes, she does," was the answer; "but it is at their 
own risk, as she usually changes her visitors into the 
shape of some animal." Malec, nothing daunted by 
this strange remark, set out at once for the abode of the 

The door of the palace was shut, and knocking loudly 
he cried, " Open to Malec Muhammed." The Peri's 
reputation was well-known, and no one ever arrived at 
the palace who was not brave enough to risk being turned 
into an animal. In a moment the door was opened and 
Malec was invited to step inside. 

In the reception hall he saw a throne composed of a 
single jacinth, adorned with the richest cushions, on 
which was seated a lady, beautiful as the silver moon, 
surrounded by a thousand handmaids, brilliant as stars. 

Malec stood stupefied in wonder at this vision of 
paradise. The princess pointed to a golden seat near 
the throne, and when he sat, upon it she asked, "Whence 
come you, who are you, and why have you visited me ? " 

^ " The Tale of Malec Muhammed and Geti Afraz the Queen of 
the Peris," translated from the Persian. From a MS. in the British 


Malec Muhammed answered like one in a dream, 

" Drunk with the wine of love I roam 
This path and seek no other home." 

Then Geti Afraz ordered one ofjfherlhandmaidens to 
bring some ruby-coloured wine to her guest, and after 
he had taken it she asked whether the company of the 
maiden would give him entertainment. But he refused 
her offer, saying that his devotion to herself prevented 
him talking to, or even looking at, any other woman. 

The princess seemed pleased with this compliment, 
but said in a pensive tone, " Man is an impatient creature 
and from his impatience many misfortunes result which 
he lays to our charge." Malec replied that whilst in her 
presence he could never give way to impatience for, if 
he were allowed to gaze into her adorable eyes, life needed 
nothing more to make it perfect. 

Geti Afraz smiled sarcastically, saying, " I fear you 
will not remain satisfied gazing for ever into my eyes, 
and take heed, for if you show the least tendency to lose 
your head over me you will be punished by being banished 
from my society." 

Thus they spent many hours in each other's company, 
he gazing into her eyes but never presuming even so far 
as to touch her hand. 

Overcome by her beauty, at last he threw himself at 
her feet and asked whether the lifelong devotion he 
was prepared to offer was acceptable in her sight. ^' Be 
patient and cautious," she said, to calm his protesta- 
tions, " otherwise you will be transformed inta an 
animal, w^hich is not an easy matter to remedy." 

So Malec went back to his golden seat and mastered 
his passionate feelings as well as he could. Just then one 
of the handmaidens brought in a scented rose to present 
to the princess. Malec Muhammed led her forward in 
hopes that his fingers might chance to touch those of 
Geti Afraz. The princess stretched out her hand to 
take the rose when Malec Muhammed lost his self- 


control and planted an impassioned kiss upon her fingers. 
" Ah ! you cursed billing dove ! " cried Geti Afraz, 
*' Why do you do that ? " and at her words Malec gave 
a sudden spring into the air and whirled round and round 
in the form of a dove. 

The poor bird was desperate on account of this strange 
way in which his affection had been received. All day 
long he flew from turret to turret, and hopped from 
branch to branch, before his unrelenting mistress ; but 
finding his appeals no use he flew away and took the 
quickest road to his house. There his servants set traps 
to catch him, and he fluttered about in great fear, until 
one remarked, " Poor little dove, let it go, for the love 
of our master, who has not been seen here for some days." 

Malec then flew to the house of his uncle, the Vizier, 
and perched on his knee. The Vizier, suspecting en- 
chantment, sent for a box of medicine and inserted a 
dose in the bird's bill; the dove fluttered round and round 
in a circle and suddenly resumed human form. 

But the attraction of the princess proved too much 
for Malec, and though he tried to forget her he found 
it impossible. At last, in desperation, he cried out that 
he must see her again, cost what it might. 

" Make me a dog, make me an ass, 
From her presence ne'er shall pass 
Her fond adorer ! " 

he exclaimed as he set out once more for the palace. 

He was admitted into the presence of the princess, 
who expressed great surprise at the fate which had over- 
taken him. 

" Ah," he said, " it was hard to be so severely punished 
for one kiss of those charming fingers." 

" Well," she replied, " I approve of you so well that 
to compensate you for your misfortune I will give you 
leave to kiss both my hands and my feet as often as you 
please, but you must not presume any further than 


That evening lie was allowed to stay beside her couch, 
because when she suggested sending him away he re- 
minded her of her promise. How could he kiss her hands 
and her feet if he was forced to leave her side ? This 
concession made Malec believe that she had more affec- 
tion for him than she was willing to show. " I asked her 
only for the opportunity of admiring her at a distance 
and she has given me a place close beside her," he 

Hour after hour he kissed her hands and feet, and all 
the time he aspired to her lips. There she lay slumbering, 
beautiful as a goddess, and as he bent over her to approach 
his lips to hers, she awoke and reminded him of his 
promise, saying, " Be cautious, or you will have to take 
your departure." 

At this rebuke he retired ignominiously from her side, 
but his love for her increased by leaps and bounds, and 
she fostered it by walking with him in the lovely palace 
gardens and by taking him with her in her gorgeous 
carriage when she followed the hounds. In the evening 
they feasted, and, after quaffing wine, Malec, driven to 
madness by her beauty, forgot himself as she lay slumber- 
ing and, bending forward, pressed his lips to hers. 

At that moment she awoke, crying, " Cursed ass ! what 
have you done ? " 

Even as she uttered the words, Malec gave a spring 
and galloped away in the form of an ass. 

The servants of the princess beat the animal with 
sticks and drove him out of the palace. 

After nine long months, in which Malec endured the 
ignominy of being in animal form, his uncle, who had been 
greatly annoyed by his nephew's repeated folly, softened 
sufficiently to help him out of his dilemma, by giving 
him a further dose of the magic medicine which brought 
him back to his natural appearance. 

When once again he arrived at the palace Geti Afraz 
welcomed him warmly. 

" All that has befallen you has happened through your 


own impatience," she said. " What can a man expect 
who loses his self-control as you did ? " 

Nevertheless the princess bound him to her in flowery 
chains, which entangled him more and more, until the 
tortured Malec, whilst visiting King Anushah in her 
company, exceeded the limits of propriety she had laid 
down for him and was turned into an ox. 

In this form he was set to draw water, and tears trickled 
down his ox-like face at the indignities he had to undergo. 
His uncle, seeing the animal's distress, said, " Malec 
Muhammed, if this be you, make some sign to let me 
know 1 " 

The ox nodded as a sign. 

" The curse of God light on you and your doings," 
said the Vizier, and he had the ox driven to a stall and 
ordered his servants to fatten him up for the winter, 
when he intended to make mince-meat of him. 

After six months had passed, however. King Anushah 
interfered and asked the Vizier to pardon Malec's folly. 
Enough medicine was sent for to serve its purpose even 
if Malec had been metamorphosed a hundred times and 
he was called into his uncle's presence. 

" Gallows face ! " cried the Vizier, " this time you 
must thank the Shah that you are to become a man once 
more, for / should have let you die in disgrace. If you 
take an oath never to behave so foolishly again I will 
give you the medicine." 

The ox pleaded and nodded, the dose was adminis- 
tered and Malec became himself again. 

" Really," said the Shah, " you have made a beast of 
yourself often enough, Muhammed," and he made him 
promise not to do it again. 

But even then Malec had not learnt wisdom, and 
after many vicissitudes, when he was brought once more 
into the presence of his charmer, he found her fascination 
too much for his senses. 

The languid Narcissus-like eyes of Geti Afraz yielded 
to slumber after a banquet, and she fell asleep on her 


sofa with Malec hy her side. In tenderest mood he 
rained kiss after kiss upon her Hps : 

" Bless the sweet power of wine," he cries, 
" That seals so sound her lovely eyes." 

Unable to restrain himself further he laid one hand upon 
her lily-white bosom, and she started up with the cry, 
" Cursed dog, what are you doing ? " and he became 
a dog. 

For many months Malec endured this new indignity, 
for his uncle, the Vizier, declared that he should wear a 
dog's collar round his neck till the day of his death, but 
the princess herself, relenting of the cruel fate to which 
she had condemned her lover, contrived that the Shah's 
wife, Ruh Afza, should transform her husband into an 
animal in order that he might suffer what Malec was 

As soon as the Shah offered his caresses to her, Ruh 
Afza cried out : 

" Ha ! you cat, what ? Would you scratch me ? " 
and immediately the Shah found himself whirled round 
and round, and, taking a spring with his head down and 
his heels up, he assumed the form of a cat. All the rest 
of the night he strolled through the garden caterwauling 

In the morning he met the Vizier, who recognised 
his master. King Anushah, at once, and restored him to 
his normal condition. 

The Shah, wishing to vent his anger on Geti Afraz for 
this insult to his dignity, decided to execute Malec, " to 
sear her bosom with a lasting wound," for he believed 
her to be fond of Malec in spite of her conduct. Sending 
for the poor dog he lashed the animal severely. 

Then, in his pain, Malec cried out to his enchantress 
to rescue him from danger, and she relented, restoring 
him to human form and rewarding him with her love. 

One of the best descriptions of transformation by use 
of ointments, in which details of the process are given, 


is to be found in " The Metamorphosis or Golden Ass 
of Apuleius," in which Lucius, the hero, happening to 
use the wrong salve, transforms himself into a donkey 
instead of into a bird as he intended. The manner in 
which he has to resume human shape is hy partaking of 
rose leaves. 

Lucius witnesses the transformation of Pamphile into 
a bird. Watching through the chink of the door leading 
to her chamber he sees Pamphile divest herself of her 
garments and after opening a certain small chest, take 
several boxes therefrom, uncover one of them and rub 
herself for a long time with the ointment, from the soles 
of her feet to the crown of her head. Holding a lamp 
in her hand she uttered a long incantation, and then 
shook her limbs with a tremulous agitation ; and from 
these, lightly fluctuating, soft feathers extended and 
strong wings burst forth, her nose hardened and incur- 
vated, the nails vv^ere compressed and made crooked, and 
Pamphile turned into an owl. Giving voice to a querulous 
sound, she made trial of her new attributes, gradually 
leaping from the earth, and soon after, being raised on 
high, she flew out of doors with all the force of her 
wings. Thus she was voluntarily changed by her own 
magic arts. 

Lucius then asked Pamphile's maid, Fotis, for a little 
ointment from the same box, as he much desired to 
experience a similar transformation. At first Fotis 
demurred, but at last agreed to do what he asked, telling 
him that a change back to human form could be effected 
by " small and frivolous herbs," such as dill put into 
fountain water, with the leaves of the laurel given as a 
lotion, and also to drink. 

The matter being decided, Fotis went into the bed- 
chamber of her mistress and fetched a box of ointment 
from the chest, which she brought to Lucius, who thus 
tells the story of what took place. 

" Having obtained the box from Fotis, and having 
prayed that transformation would favour me with 


prosperous flights, I hastily divested myself of all my 
garments, and having ardently put my hand into the 
box and taken from it a sufficient quantity of the oint- 
ment, I rubbed with it the members of my body. And 
now, balancing my arms with alternate efforts, I longed 
to be changed into a bird. No plumes, however, ger- 
minated, but my hairs became evidently thickened into 
bristles, my tender skin was hardened into a hide, and 
the extremities of my hands, all my fingers having lost 
their number, coalesced into several hoofs and a long tail 
proceeded from the extremity of my spine. My face 
was now enormous, my mouth was long, and my limbs 
immoderate and pendant. Thus, also, my ears increased 
excessively, and were clothed with rough hairs. And 
while destitute of all hope, I consider the whole of my 
body, I see that I am not a bird, but an ass ; and, com- 
plaining of the deed of Fotis, but being deprived both of 
the human gesture and voice, I silently expostulated with 
her (which was all I could do) with my underlip hanging 
down, and beheld her sternly and obliquely yet with 
humid eyes. But she, as soon as she beheld me thus 
changed, struck her forehead with her indignant hands, 
and exclaimed, ' Wretch that I am, I am undone. 
Trepidation, and at the same time festination, have 
beguiled me, and the similitude of the boxes has deceived 
me. It is well, however, that a remedy for this trans- 
formation may be easily obtained ; for by only chewing 
roses you will put off the form of an ass and will im- 
mediately become again my Lucius. And I wish I had 
prepared for this evening, according to my custom, some 
garlands of roses, for then you would not have suffered 
the delay of even one night. But as soon as it is morning, 
a remedy shall hastily be procured for you.' After this 
manner she lamented. But I thought I was a com- 
plete ass, and instead of Lucius a labouring beast, yet 
I retained human sense. "^ 

Lucius deliberated whether he should kick and bite 
1 "The Metamorphosis or Golden Ass of Apuleius," 1822, pp. 60-3. 


Fotis to death, but was only deterred by the knowledge 
that if he did so he would not be able to return to 
human shape, so he ran to the stable and spent the night 
with the horses there. But unfortunately he was driven 
off by a band of robbers, and under these circumstances, 
necessarily abstaining from roses which he could not get, 
he was forced to continue under the form of an ass, in 
which he had numerous adventures. 

A most remarkable series of transformations occurs in 
the Welsh romance ^' The History of Taliesin," written 
about the thirteenth century. Caridwen, who is boiling 
a charmed mixture from which she hopes to secure " the 
three blessed drops of the grace of inspiration," for her 
ugly and deformed son, leaves her cauldron for a moment, 
in which space of time one of her servants unfortunately 
obtains the benefit of her wisdom. In her anger she 
threatens him and he, in fear, takes to his heels. She 
gives chase and he changes into a hare. Then she be- 
comes a greyhound and gains on him. Throwing himself 
into the river he takes the form of a fish, and she, as an 
otter, pursues him, and he assumes the shape of a bird. 
She follows him as a hawk. Then he drops to earth upon 
a heap of winnowed wheat, disguising himself as a grain. 
Caridwen transforms herself into a high-crested black 
hen and scratches among the wheat till she sifts him out 
and swallows him. 

These kaleidoscopic changes are positively bewildering 
and may be regarded as purely symbolic. They contrast 
with the simple and pathetic transformation which 

The Ebesoana race among the Arawaks of Guiana, take 
their name from " Ebesotu," the transformed heroine 
of the following legend : — 

A love-sick maiden prayed her father, a sorcerer, to 
transform her into a dog, so that she might follow 
her lover, who had been utterly indifferent to her 

Her father treated the affair very practically indeed. 


in spite of the fact that he thought his daughter very 

" Take this skin," he said sadly, " and draw o'er thy shoulders, 

A dog in the eyes of the loved one to be, 

Its wonderful magic deceives all beholders ! 

Be rid of thy madness — then come back to me ! " 

The young lover, who was a huntsman, used to start 
out every morning into the woods, followed by four 
dogs, but when he returned in the evening only three 
of them were at heel, for one always ran home when it 
came to the point of slaughtering the prey. When the 
hunter reached his cottage he found it swept and clean, 
the fire burning, and bread freshly baked, and he 
imagined a kind neighbour had done this for him. 

" When they all denied it, he said, ' 'Tis some spirit. 
Who seeing me lonely, thus strives to be kind,' 
Then he saw gazing at him that dog void of merit, 
Whose look was so strange it puzzled his mind." 

Next day, when he noticed there were only three 
dogs instead of four, he tied the hounds to a tree and 
went in search of the missing animal. Peeping through 
a crack in the door of his cottage he saw a lovely maiden, 
and the dogskin lying over a chair close by. Making a 
sudden dart into the room, he seized the skin and thrust- 
ing it into the fire, claimed the maiden as his bride. 




A SKIN-DRESS that could be put on or taken off to change 
a person into an animal, or into a human being again, is 
the basic idea of transformation in folk-tales. When the 
skin is burnt the animal permanentl)^ resumes human 
shape, as appears from the last story in the preceding 
chapter. Many legends of frog-princes, serpent-husbands, 
swan-maidens, tiger-sons, and so forth, fall into this 
class. A quaint and typical story of the kind is told 
about a mouse-maiden. 

A king and queen of a certain city had a daughter who 
was invited to become the bride of a prince who lived 
in another city. Messengers were sent to fetch her, and 
when they arrived at the palace they ordered the bride 
to come out of her room to eat the rice of the wedding- 
feast. But the queen said to the messengers, " She is 
now eating cooked rice in the house." 

They then begged the princess to come out to dress in 
the robes sent by the bridegroom, but the queen said, 
*' She is already putting on robes in her chamber." Then 
they said she was to come out and be taken to the bride- 
groom's city, and the queen, having put a female mouse 
in an incense box, asked two of the messengers to come 
forward and gave the box into their hands, saying, 
" Take this and until seven days have gone by do not 
lift the Hd of the box." 

With this the messengers had to be satisfied. They 
took the box to the prince's city, and when they lifted 



the lid after seven days the mouse jumped out of the 
box and hid herself among the cooking pots. Now it 
was the duty of a servant girl in the prince's household 
to apportion and serve cooked rice and vegetable curry to 
the prince, and when he was satisfied, she covered up 
the cooking pots containing the rest of the food. Then 
the mouse came, and having taken and eaten some of 
the cooked rice and vegetables, covered up the cooking 
pots and went back to hide among the pots. 

The following day the same thing occurred, and the 
prince said to the servant, " Does the mouse eat cooked 
rice ? Look and tell me." 

The girl went to see and when she came back she 
said, " She has eaten the cooked rice and covered the 
cooking pots, and has gone." 

Next day the prince said, " I am going to cut the rice- 
crop. Remain at home and, when evening comes, put 
the utensils for cooking near the hearth." So the servant 
obeyed him and in the evening the mouse came and 
cooked. She placed the food ready and again ran and 
hid behind the pots. 

This went on for several days, and when the whole rice- 
crop was garnered in, the prince went near to the place 
where the mouse was hidden and said, " Having pounded 
the rice and removed the husks, let us go to your village 
and present it to your parents as first-fruits." But the 
mouse said, " I will not go. You go ! " So the prince 
made the servant get the package of cooked rice ready, 
and he went to the village of the queen and gave the 
package to her. 

And the queen said, " Where is my daughter ? " The 
prince answered, " She refused to come." 

Then the queen said, " Go back to your city, and having 
placed the cooking utensils near the hearth, hide yourself 
and stay in the house." 

After the prince returned to the city, he did as she had 
told him. The mouse, having come out, took off her 
mouse-jacket, and, assuming the shape of a girl, put on 


other clothes. While she was preparing to cook, the 
prince took the mouse-jacket and burnt it. 

Afterwards when the girl went to the place where the 
mouse-jacket had been and looked for it, it was not there. 
Then she looked in the hearth, and saw that there was 
one sleeve of the skin-dress among the embers. While 
she was there weeping and weeping, the prince came out 
of his hiding-place and said, '' Your mother told me to 
burn the mouse-jacket. Now you are really mine ! " 

So the mouse became a princess again and married the 
prince. 1 

The same idea is contained in the story of the king 
who, putting on a jackal-skin, turns into a jackal, only 
resuming human form permanently when the skin is 
burnt. 2 In '' Indian Fairy Tales" there is a prince who 
has a monkey-skin which he can put on and off at plea- 
sure. ^ A king's daughter in another story also has a 
monkey-skin and when a prince burns it she takes fire 
and flies away all ablaze to her father's palace.* Four 
fairy doves in feather-dresses appear in *' Romantic Tales 
from the Panjab with Indian Night's Entertainment. "^ 
When they take off their feathers to bathe, a prince 
conceals one dress and the fairy is unable to resume bird 
form. The story of the feather-vest of the dove-maiden 
in "The Arabian Nights "^ is similar in style. 

The swan-maidens or cloud-maidens, as they are some- 
times called, have a shirt made of swan's feathers which 
acts much in the same manner as the wolf-skin to the 
wer-wolf. The swan-maiden retains human shape as 
long as she is kept away from her feather tunic. The 
commonest form of this legend is that of a man who 

^ Adapted from " Village Folk-tales of Ceylon," by H. Parker, 1910, 
Vol. I, pp. 308-10. 

2 Frere, M., " Old Deccan Days," 1889, pp. 83-193. 

3 Stokes, M. S. H., 1880, p. 41. 

* " Folk Tales of Hindustan," p. 54 ff. 
^ Swynnerton, C, 1908, p. 464. 
^ Lady Burton's edition, 1887, Vol. Ill, p. 417. 


passes by a lake and sees several beautiful maidens bath- 
ing, their feather-dresses lying on the bank. He ap- 
proaches quietly and steals one of the dresses. In due 
course the bathers come to the shore, don their dresses 
and swim off in the shape of swans, all but one, who is 
left lamenting on the shore. Then the thief appears, 
tells her what he has done and bids the maiden marry 
him. They live happily together until one day when the 
husband, by accident, leaves the wardrobe door unlocked 
and the swan-maiden puts on her feather-shirt and flies 
off, never to return.^ 

In a similar story the maiden is wearing a gold chain 
round her neck which her huntsman lover seizes, thus 
gaining the power over her which makes it possible to 
w^oo and wed her. She gives birth in due course to seven 
sons, each one of whom wears a gold chain about his 
neck and can transform himself into a swan at will. 

Lothaire, King of France, m^arried a fairy wife, and 
his children were born wearing golden collars which 
gave them the magical power of assuming the form of 

In the legends which have a Knight of the Swan as 
hero, like the story of Lohengrin, the swan plays only a 
secondary part. 

The primitive idea at the root of all these stories is 
that the human soul, in passing from one shape to 
another, has to wear the outer sign or garment of the 
creature it desires to represent. The symbolic difference 
between the wer-wolf and the swan-maiden is that the 
former represents the rough, howling, and destructive 
night-wind, the latter the fleecy, pure, and enthralling 
summer cloud. 

The Valkyries, with their shirts of plumage, who hover 
over Scandinavian battle-fields to minister to the souls 
of dying heroes are of the same order of beings as the 
Hindu Asparas and the Houris of the Mussulman. The 

^ Variants of this basic legend are included in the chapter on " Bird- 
Women," where they properly belong. 


Lorelei sirens with their fish-tails, their golden combs 
and mirrors, who lure fishermen to their doom on the 
rocks, are not far removed from the same family. All 
are partly human and allied with more or less fanciful 
animal forms and characteristics. They are frequently 
the precursors of evil or at least of danger to mankind, 
but many of them possess a sweetness and charm which 
is unsurpassed and unsurpassable. 

Far more terrible than sirens and swan-maidens were 
the Berserkers of Scandinavia in the ninth century who, 
possessed by a strange mania, arrayed themselves in the 
skins of wolves or bears and went forth to see whom 
they might devour. 

The Mara is a more peaceable but nevertheless a more 
uncanny being, a kind of female demon who comes at 
night to torment sleepers by crouching on their bodies 
and checking respiration. Sometimes she is to be seen 
in animal form, sometimes as a beautiful woman. She 
has been known to torture people to death, and may 
perhaps have some distant affinity to the vampire, but 
is far less vindictive and self-seeking, though gifted with 
powers of darkness. 

A pious knight, journeying one day, found a fair lady 
nude, and bound to a tree, her back streaming with blood 
from the stripes of lashes. Rescuing her from her un- 
fortunate position, he took her to his palace and made 
her his wife, her extraordinary loveliness winning her 
fame throughout the neighbourhood. 

Her husband, the knight, accompanied her to mass 
every Sunday, and to his great surprise and regret she 
always refused to stay in the church while the creed was 
said. Just beforehand she would deliberately rise from 
her seat and walk out. Her husband questioned her about 
this strange habit, but could get no satisfactory explana- 
tion, nor would she consent to alter her behaviour. He 
used entreaties and even threats without avail, and at 
last he decided to keep her in the church by main force. 
Seizing upon her with both hands, he held her in her 


seat, and then he noticed her frame become convulsed 
and her eyes grow unnaturally large and dark. The 
service stopped and everyone in the building turned to 
see what was happening. " In the name of God, speak," 
cried the pious knight, '' and tell me what or who thou 
art ! " and as he said these words his wife melted away 
and disappeared, while, with a great cry of anguish, a 
monster of evil shape rose from the spot where she had 
been sitting and, passing through the air, vanished through 
the roof of the church. 

Another legend about the Mara is that if she be 
wrapped up in the bedclothes and held down tightly, a 
white dove flies out of the window and the bedclothes 
will be found to contain nothing. This belief is appar- 
ently isolated and unrelated to other phenomena and is 
probably only a tribute to the elusive character of this 

One of the Calmuc stories concerns three sisters, who, 
coming across an enchanted castle tenanted by a white 
bird, are each in turn offered marriage by the owner. 
The third sister marries the bird, who turns out to be a 
handsome cavalier, but having burned his aviary, she 
loses him, and cannot regain her husband until the aviary 
is restored. 

In the well-known story of " The Brahman Girl who 
m_arries a Tiger," the tiger assumes human shape and 
makes a beautiful girl fall in love with him. Soon after 
their marriage he threatens her, saying, " Be quiet or I 
shall show you my original shape." ^ When she urges 
him to do so he changes and behold, " four legs, a 
striped skin, a long tail, and a tiger's face come on him 
suddenly, and, horror of horrors, a tiger, and not a man 
stands before her ! " 

She has to obey all his orders and finally gives birth 
to a son, who also turns out " to be only a tiger." 

She gets her brothers to help her, murders her child 

1 There is a Tamil proverb : " Be quiet or I shall show you my original 


and runs off home. In the end the tiger is killed by her 
relatives, and the Brahman girl, in memory o£ him, raises 
a pillar over the well and plants a fragrant shrub on the 
top of it.^ 

The Chinese have a curious idea about " making 
animals," 2 and a story is told about a man who arrived 
at an inn in Yang-Chow leading five donkeys. He asks 
the landlord whether he may put the animals in the stable, 
and while he goes off for a short time, he leaves instruc- 
tions that they are not to be given water to drink. They 
become so restless, however, that the landlord takes the 
responsibility of setting them loose, and they make a 
rush to a neighbouring pond. But no sooner has water 
touched their lips than they roll on the ground and 
change into women. The landlord, frightened at what 
has occurred, hides them in his house and presently the 
man returns leading five sheep. But now the landlord's 
suspicions 'are aroused and, persuading his guest to take 
wine indoors, he goes out and waters the sheep. They 
turn into young men and their temporary owner is put 
under arrest and executed for a sorcerer. 

In a Basque story, seven brothers forbid their sister to 
go near a certain house. She disobeys them and a witch 
in the house gives her certain herbs, telling her to put 
them in her brothers' foot-bath. She does so and the 
brothers are changed into cows. The ideas contained in 
these examples are similar in character to those contained 
in Grimm's " Household Tales." The following is more 
like the Japanese wer-fox episodes : — 

A certain prince royal of India has a lovely mistress 
who bewitches him, and who falls asleep one day in a bed 
of chrysanthemums where her lover shoots and wounds 
a fox in the forehead. The girl is found to be bleeding 
from a wound in her temple and is thus exposed. She is 
an evil animal. 

In many stories women give birth to animals. 

1 " Indian Folk Tales," 1908, p. 90. 

2 Giles, H. A., " Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio," 1909, p. 417. 


A widow who lives near a palace and makes a livelihood 
by pounding rice, bears a frog which becomes a good- 
looking prince, but he ends as a frog. 

In the story of Madana Kama Raja (Natesa Sastri) a 
queen bears a tortoise prince who has the power of leaving 
his shell, and assuming human form. One day his mother 
is present at the transformation and smashes the shell, 
after which her son has to remain a man. Another queen 
gives birth to a tortoise which is reared by her, and goes 
in search of divine flowers, which he obtains by the aid 
of a nymph. 

A raja has two wives and the first has six sons, the 
second only one, who is a mongoose. His name is 
Lelsing, and he speaks like a man, but grows no bigger 
than an ordinary mongoose. In this story the six brothers 
do everything they can to ill-treat the mongoose boy, 
but all their tricks turn to his advantage, and in the end 
he grows rich while they grow poor, and finally they all 
get drowned, while he goes home rejoicing at his revenge 
upon them for their unkindness.^ 

The Bards at Jaisalmer claimed one of the raja's sons 
for a ruler, so he gave them one of his seven ranis, who 
was expecting to become a mother, and they took her to 
Nahan and near the Sarmor tank she gave birth first to 
a lion and four monsters, and then to a son. After the 
monsters were exorcised they took the child to Medni 
and he became the first raja of Nahan (Sarmor). ^ 

Another raja's child was born with the ears of an ox. 
Only the raja's barber knew, but he blurted it out to the 
dom and the dom went to the raja's palace and sang 

" The son of the raja 
Has the ears of an ox." 

Then the raja was very angry, and only forgave the 
dom when he said he had not been told about the mis- 
fortune, but that a drum had sung the words to him.^ 

1 Bompas, " Folklore of the Santal Pagarnas," 1909, p. 201 ff. 

2 " Punjab Notes and Queries," May, 1885, p. 134. 

3 Ibid., p. 171. 


" The Two Brothers " is a typical and classical story 
in which one brother assumes the form of a great bull 
with all the sacred marks. In another story of German 
origin, the hero, who has been hacked to pieces and stuffed 
in a bag, is restored to life by a master sorcerer, who 
endows him with the power of assuming whatever shape 
he pleases. He turns into a fine horse, and the king's 
daughter, believing she is being deceived, has the animal 

A similar Russian tale is about a horse which has a 
golden mane and, when it is killed, a bull with golden 
hair arises from the blood spilt. 

So numerous are the stories of this description, dealing 
with transformation, that it is practically impossible to 
divide them into their various types, although many 
attempts to classify them have been made by authorita- 
tive writers on folk-lore ; nor is it possible to give them 
due occult significance. They are interesting chiefly 
on account of the details which may be gathered from 
them concerning methods and reasons of transformation. 

The Indian Rakshasa (Bengalese Raqhosh) are beings 
of a malevolent nature which haunt cemeteries, harass 
the devout, animate dead bodies, and afflict mankind in 
various ways. They can assume any form they please, 
animal or other. Females appear as beautiful women for 
the purpose of luring men to their doom. When in 
their natural state they have upstanding hair, yellow as 
the flames which they vomit forth from mouths v/hich 
are provided with huge tusks. They have large, black, 
hairy bodies. The Nagas, on the other hand, are semi- 
divine snake-beings with good impulses. 

In " Bengali Household Tales," by William McCul- 
loch,i a Raqhosh performs a transformation in the 
following manner : He removes a stone from an under- 
ground passage and descending brings forth a monkey. 
He then plucks a few leaves from a tree, draws water 
from a well close by, throws the leaves into it and pours 

1 1912, p. 237. 


it over the body of the monkey. The monkey is im- 
mediately transformed into a beautiful young woman 
with whom the Raqhosh descends by the underground 
passage. Towards dawn the two come up again. This 
time the Raqhosh plucks some leaves from another tree 
and throws them into some water from another well, 
and then pours it over the young woman. Instantane- 
ously she is changed into a monkey again. 

This is not the most usual way for such transformations 
and retransformations to occur in Indian folk-tales ; 
sometimes they are achieved by magic rods. In Grimm's 
" Household Tale," " Donkey Cabbages," one kind of 
cabbage transforms a man into an ass and the other 
reverses the process. 

Magicians, however, have other methods. Mercurius, 
the most skilful of sorcerers, was supposed to have dis- 
covered the secret of " fascinating " men's eyes in such 
a way as to make people invisible to their sight, or per- 
haps to give them the appearance of an animal. This 
may be compared to modern hypnotism and has an im- 
portant bearing on the subject. 

Pomponius Mela attributes to the Druidical priestesses 
of Sena the knowledge of transforming themselves into 
animals at will. 

Proteus, according to Homer's account, becomes a 
dragon, a lion, or a boar. Eustathius, the commentator, 
adds, " not really changing but only appearing to do 
so." Proteus was an adroit worker of miracles, and was 
well acquainted with the secrets of Egyptian philosophy. 
He assumed animal shape in order to escape the necessity 
of foretelling the future when asked to do so but, when- 
ever he saw his endeavours were of no avail, he resumed 
his natural appearance. 

Towards the end of the sixteenth century Joseph 
Acosta, who resided in Peru, asserts that sorcerers existed 
there at that time who were capable of assuming any 
form they pleased. He tells of a ruler of a city in Mexico 
who was sent for by the predecessor of Montezuma and 


who transformed himself successively before the eyes of 
men who tried to seize his person, into a tiger, an eagle, 
and a serpent. At length he gave in, and being taken 
before the emperor was condemned to death. 

The same kind of power was ascribed, in 1702, by the 
Bishop of Chiapa (a province of Guatemala) to the 
Naguals, the national priests who endeavoured to win 
back the children brought up as Christians by the 
Government, to the religion of their ancestors. After 
various ceremonies, the child he was teaching was told 
to advance and embrace the Nagual. At that moment 
he assumed a hideous animal form, and as a lion, tiger, or 
other wild beast, threw the young convert to Chris- 
tianity into a state of abject terror by appearing chained 
to him.^ There, no doubt, hypnotism became a weapon 
of religious fanaticism. 

At the appearance of the monster Ravanas, the gods, 
becoming alarmed, transform themiselves into animals : 
Indras changes into a peacock, Yamas into a crow, 
Kuveras into a chameleon, and Varunas into a swan in 
order to escape the ire of the enemy. 

These transformations, says de Gubernatis,^ instead of 
being capricious, were necessary and natural to the several 
gods, for the animal is the shadow that follows the hero 
and is so closely identified with him that it may often 
be said to be the hero himself. 

Nash, in " Christ's Tears over Jerusalem," 161 3, has 
the following remarkable passage. " They talk of an ox 
that tolled the bell at Woolwich, and how from an ox 
he transformed himself into an old man, and from an 
old man to an infant and into a young man again." 

The Egyptians were the first to broach the opinion 
that the soul of man is immortal and that, when the 
body dies, it enters into the form of an animal which is 
born at the moment, thence passing on from one animal 
to another, until it has circled through the forms of all 

1 Salverte, E., " The Philosophy of Magic," 1846, Vol. I, p. 289. 

2 " Zoological Mythology," 1872, Vol. I, p. xviii. 


the creatures which tenant the earth, the water, and the 
air, after which it enters again into a human frame and 
is born anew. The whole period of transmigration is 
(they say) three thousand years. ^ 

According to Egyptian beHefs only the souls of 
wicked men suffered the disgrace of entering the body 
of an animal when, *' weighed in the balance " before 
the tribunal of Osiris, they were pronounced unworthy 
to enter the abode of the blessed. The soul was then 
sent back to the body of a pig. 

The doctrine of metempsychosis was borrowed from 
Egypt by Pythagoras and classical allusions are so numer- 
ous that it is impossible to mention more than a few 

Empedocles believed he had passed through many 
forms, a bird and a fish among others. Lucian's story 
was of a Pythagorian cock which had been a man, a 
woman, a fish, a horse, and a frog, and of all states he 
thought that man was the most deplorably wretched of 
the animals. After anointing himself with enchanted 
salve from Thessaly, Lucian was transformed into an 
ass and worked for seven years under a '' gardiner, 
a tyle man, a corier, and suchlike." At the end of the 
period he was restored to human shape by nibbling rose 

Dionysius was believed to assume the form of a goat 
or of a bull, and Cronius was said to take the form 
of a horse. Epona was a horse-goddess, and Callisto 
in an Arcadian myth was changed into a bear. Citeus, 
son of Lycaon, laments the transformation of his daughter 
into a bear. Iphigenia at the moment of sacrifice was 
changed into a fawn. Osiris was mangled by a boar, or 
Typhon in the form of a boar ; — just as in the tale of 
Diarmuid and Grainne, the former's foster brother was 
transformed into a boar. 

The sorceress Thessala was able to call up strange 
animal ghosts : 

^ Herodotus, Book II, Chap. 123. 


" Here in all nature's products unfortunate ; 
Foam of mad dogs, which waters fear and hate ; 
Guts of the lynx ; Hyaena's knot unbred ; 
The marrow of a hart with serpents fed 
Were not wanting ; no, nor the sea lamprey 
Which stops the ships ; nor yet the dragon's eye." 

Luc AN. 

In Shakespeare's " Midsummer Night's Dream " Puck 
is gifted with the power of transformation. He says, 

" Sometimes a horse I'll be, sometimes a hound, 
A hog, a headless bear, sometimes a fire, 
And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn. 
Like horse, hound, dog, bear, fire, at every turn." 

He had also the power to transform others into animals, 
and seeing Bottom studying the part of Pyramus, plays a 
trick upon him : 

" An ass's nole I fixed on his head." 

" Bless thee, Bottom," says Quin, seeing his companion 
transformed in this manner, " Bless thee ! thou art 
translated." But Titania, herself under a spell, becomes 
enamoured of the vision. '' So is mine eye enthralled to 
thy shape," she cries, and she desires to stick musk-roses 
in his sleek smooth head, and kiss the fair, large ears." 
Fortunately Oberon orders Puck to restore Bottom to 
his normal shape before much harm is done. 

Many modern writers have used the mystic idea of 
animal transformation, especially as gleaned from Celtic 
legendary sources ; for instance, in the tales by Fiona 
McLeod and the poems by W. B. Yeats. 

" Do you not hear me calling white deer with no horns ! 
I have been changed to a hound with one red ear ; " 

" A man with a hazel wand came without sound, 
And changed me suddenly, while I was looking another way ; 
And now my calHng is but the calling of a hound." 

In another poem the salmon caught by a young fisher- 
man is no sooner under his roof, than it changes into a 
shimmering maiden — which makes one think of the 


Indian story of a shining man who casts his ugly skin 
and is so bright that no one can see him without being 

A pretty Httle story of a shining lady who becomes a 
butterfly, is told by Mr. H. A. Giles in " Strange Stories 
from a Chinese Studio."^ Mr. Wang of Chang-shang, 
the District Magistrate, had a habit of commuting the 
fines and penalties of the Penal Code inflicted on prisoners 
in exchange for a corresponding number of butterflies. 
He rejoiced in seeing the insects flutter hither and 
thither like " tinsel snippings " borne on the breeze. 
One night he dreamt that a beautiful girl in shimmering 
clothes stood before him who said sadly, " Your cruel 
practice has brought many of my sisters to an untimely 
end ; now you must pay the penalty for what you have 
done." Then she transformed herself into a butterfly 
and flew away. 

A great feature in folk-tales and fairy stories is, of 
course, the talking animal. Grimm's " Tales," the 
" Arabian Nights," and Hans Andersen's " Marchen," 
have made such semi-human creatures thoroughly 
familiar. They appear also in the Biole and mythology. 
Eve and the serpent, Balaam and the ass, Achilles and 
his horses, Porus and the elephant, Bacchus, Phryxius 
and many others are notable instances. The idea of 
words of wisdom coming from the lips of brutes is brought 
to greater perfection in the fables than elsewhere, and 
iEsop's animals are gifted with speech, traits, and 
passions absolutely human. 

Pilpay, Lokman, Babrius, Phaedrus, and La Fontaine, 
most successfully of all, exploited the same theme, and a 
wonderful procession of animals stalks through their 
writings, almost every kind of zoological specimen being 
represented. There are rats enough to require the 
services of many Pied Pipers of Hamelin, lions enough 
to stock the equatorial forests, wolves to crowd the 
Steppes of Russia, bats and birds, gnats and frogs galore, 

1 p. 430- 


and to each beast, feathered thing, or fish, a place is 
given in the social scale which he fills with dignity and 
grace, or in which he acts with wisdom and judgment, 
or again in which he is made to look ridiculous and 
becomes the laughing stock of those about him. 

" If one is a wolf, one devours," wrote Walpole, 
referring to the fables of La Fontaine. " If one is a fox, 
one is cunning. If one is a monkey, one is a coxcomb." 

The fox always gets the better of everyone else in the 
fables. He makes use of the goat to climb out of the 
well, and then leaves him to his fate. He is always taking 
the advantage of the wolf, for he has more brains, if less 
strength. He has no difficulty in inventing stratagems 
which bring the plump turkeys into his larder. He is 
always diplomatic, he comes smiling out of every diffi- 
culty, he is quick and energetic : his personal appear- 
ance, heightened by his bright eye and bushy tail, is in 
his favour. He has two qualities invaluable to the 
courtier, a certain dash and a certain subtlety, and above 
all he is bon viveur. 

" Grand Croqueur de poulets, grands preneur de lapins." 

His worst enemy is the dog, with whom his tricks are 
frequently wanting in success. When out walking with 
the cat, and boastful of his own superior resources, he 
finds himself at a disadvantage the moment an attack is 
threatened by a pack of hounds. The cat quickly 
climbs a lofty tree. 

" The fox his hundred ruses tried. 
And yet no safety found : 
A hundred times he falsified 
The nose of every hound. 
Was here, and there, and everywhere, 
Above and underground." 

In the end they are too clever for him, and he meets his 

The story of Reynard the fox is a novel of adventure 
in which animals play the part of men and usually bear 
men's names, and who does not know and love the tale 


of Brer Rabbit and Brer B'ar and their relations with 
Uncle Remus, or the equally human animals of Alice's 
*' Adventures." 

These fictitious beings combine human and animal 
mental characteristics, but there is another class, the 
fabulous animals, of which the physical attributes are 
taken partly from man, partly from animal types. They 
are no doubt symbolic of occult truths, and much time 
and labour might be spent in formulating their relation- 



The most important among fabulous animals which are 
partly human beings are the centaur, half-man and half- 
horse ; the harpy, half -woman and half-vulture ; the 
sphinx, which has the head of a woman, the body of a 
lion and the wings of an eagle, and the satyr, an old man 
with goat's legs and tail. 

'' Gorgons and Hydras, and Chimaeras — dire stories of 
Celaeno and the Harpies," says Charles Lamb, " may 
reproduce themselves in the brain of superstition — but 
they were there before. They are transcripts, types — 
the archetypes are in us, and eternal. How else should 
the recital of that which we know in a waking sense to be 
false, come to affect us at all ? — or 

" Names whose sense we see not, 
Fray jis with things that be not ? 

Is it that we naturally conceive terror from such objects, 
considered in their capacity of being able to inflict upon 
us bodily injury ? — O, least of all ! These terrors are of 
older standing. They date beyond body — or, without 
the body, they would have been the same. All the cruel, 
tormenting, defined devils in Dante — tearing, mangling, 
choking, stifling, scorching demons — are they one half 
so fearful to the spirit of a man, as the simple idea of a 
spirit unembodied following him : 

" Like one that on a lonesome road 
Doth walk in fear and dread, 
For having once turn'd round, walks on, 
And turns no more his head ; 
Because he knows a frightful fiend 
Doth close behind him tread. 



That the kind of fear here treated of is purely spiritual — 
that it is strong in proportion as it is objectless upon 
earth — and that it predominates in the period of sinless 
infancy — are difficulties the solution of which might 
afford some probable insight into our ante-mundane 
condition, and a peep at least into the shadowland of 

Prentice Mulford firmly believed that the supposed 
fables in the ancient mythologies concerning beings half- 
men, half-beasts (such as centaurs or mermaids) had 
had their origin in spiritual truths. " Our race," he 
says, " has been so developed out of the animal or coarser 
forms of life. Countless ages ago all forms of life were 
coarser than now. As these grew finer, man attracted 
and absorbed the spirit of the finer." 

"The history of animals such as the ancients have 
transmitted to us," says Eusebe Salverte,^ " is filled with 
details apparently chimerical : but which are sometimes 
only the consequence of a defective nomenclature. The 
nam_e, Onocentaur, which seems to designate a monster, 
uniting the form of a man and an ass, was given to a 
quadrumanus which runs sometimes on four paws, but 
at other times uses its forepaws only as hands : merely 
an immense monkey covered with grey hair, particularly 
on the lower part of the body. . . ." 

M. Geoffroy de St. Hillaire described a polydactyle 
horse as having hairy fingers separated by membranes : 
yet when ancient authors have spoken of horses, the feet 
of which bore some resemblance to the hands and feet 
of a man, they have been accused of imposture.^ 

The Centaurs were mythical creatures which inhabited 
Thessaly. They were said to have sprung from a union 
of Ixion and a Cloud, or, according to other authorities, 
to be the offspring of Centaurus, son of Apollo, by 
Stilbia, daughter of Peneus. The famous battle of the 

1 Lamb, Charles, " Essays of Elia," 1904, pp. 133-4. 

2 « The Philosophy of Magic," 1846, Vol. I, p. d-j. 

3 lUL, pp. 73-4, 


Centaurs with the Lapithae was occasioned by a quarrel 
at the marriage of Hippodamia with Pirithous. The 
Centaurs having come to a state o£ intoxication, offered 
violence to the women present, an insult for which they 
received due punishment. 

A vivid presentment of what changing shape from man 
to horse would mean is to be found in Mr. Algernon 
Blackwood's " The Centaur,"^ in which story the Irish 
hero, Mally, watches his own transformation into the 
figure of the Urwelt, with amazement. 

'* All white and shining lay the sunlight over his own 
extended form. Power was in his limbs ; he rose above 
the ground in some new way ; the usual little stream 
of breath became a river of rushing air he drew into 
stronger, more capacious lungs ; likewise his bust grew 
strangely deepened, pushed the wind before it ; and 
the sunshine glowed on shaggy flanks agleam with dew 
that powerfully drove the ground behind him while 
he ran. 

'' He ran yet only partly as a man runs ; he found him- 
self shot forwards through the air, upright, yet at the 
same time upon all fours ... it was his own feet 
now that made that trampling as of hoofs upon the 

In " Gulliver's Travels " the men-horses or Houy- 
hnhnms are fine horses gifted with human intelligence, 
but the Yahoos are described by Swift as having a very 
peculiar shape. Their heads and breasts were covered 
with a thick hair, some frizzled and others lank, they had 
beards like goats and a long ridge of hair down their 
backs, and the foreparts of their legs and feet, but the 
rest of their bodies was bare, so that their skins, which 
were of a brown-buff colour, could be seen. They had 
no tails, and they sat on the ground as well as laid down, 
and often stood on their hind feet. They climbed high 
trees as nimbly as a squirrel, for they had strong extended 
claws before and behind, terminating in sharp points and 

1 191 1, pp. 257-8. 



hooked. They would often spring and bound and leap 
with prodigious agility.^ 

In speaking, the Houyhnhnms pronounced through 
the nose and throat, and their language approached 
nearest to High-Dutch or German, but was more grace- 
ful and significant. 

Swift no doubt took his idea of the men-horses from 

The Harpies were three fabulous winged monsters, 
offsprings of Neptune and Terra, represented with the 
features of a woman, the body of a vulture, and human 
fingers armed with sharp claws. Heraldically the harpy 
appears as a vulture with the head and breasts of a woman. 
Neptune's daughters emitted an odious stench and 
polluted all they touched. 

The Sphinx was another composite fabled monster, 
with the head and breasts of a woman, the body of a 
dog, the tail of a serpent, the wings of a bird, the paws 
of a lion, and a human voice. According to the Grecian 
poets the animal infested the city of Thebes, devouring 
the inhabitants and setting difficult riddles. It was 
promised, however, that on the solution of one of its 
enigmas the Sphinx would destroy itself. The puzzle 
to be solved was, " What animal walked on four legs in 
the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening ? " 
Many people attempted to find a solution in the hope of 
winning Jocasta, sister of Creon, King of Thebes, in 
marriage, but all fell victims to their ambition until the 
advent of CEdipus, who answered the Sphinx, saying, Man 
crept on his hands and feet in infancy, at noon he walked 
erect, and in the evening of life required the support of 
a staff. On hearing the reply the Sphinx dashed her head 
against a rock and expired. In Egypt sphinxes with 
human heads were called Androsphinxes. They had no 
wings, which were added by the Greek artists. 

Hecate, the Greek goddess, was described as having 
three bodies or three heads, one of a horse, the second of 
1 Swift, J., " Gulliver's Travels " (York Library), 1905, p. 231. 


a dog, and the third of a lion. She was a spectral being 
who at night sent from the lower world all kinds of 
demons and phantoms to teach sorcery. She wandered 
about with the souls of the dead and her approach was 
announced by the whining and howling of dogs. 

Hathor was pictured sometimes as a cow, sometimes 
as a woman with the head of a cow, bearing the solar 
disc between her horns. 

Other animal goddesses of curious shapes are Egyptian, 
such as the cat-goddess, the bird-goddess, the hippo- 
potamus-goddess, Smet-Smet or Rert-Rert, figures of 
which may be seen at the British Museum. 

Strange creatures too were the Gorgons, the three 
sisters, Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa, daughters of 
Phorcys and Ceto. Their hairs were entwined with 
serpents, they had hands of brass, scales on their body, 
and the tusks of a wild boar. Their frightful appearance 
caused those who beheld them to turn to stone. They 
were conquered by Perseus, who was given special 
weapons for the purpose by the gods. He cut off Medusa's 
head and gave it to Minerva ; as he fled through the air 
to Ethiopia drops of blood fell to the ground from the 
severed head and turned to serpents. Pegasus, the winged 
horse, sprang from Medusa's blood and became the 
favourite of the Muses. He was given to Bellerophon 
and helped him to conquer the Chimaera, the celebrated 
monster with three heads, a lion's, goat's, and dragon's, 
which continually sent forth flames. The forepart of 
its body was that of a lion, the middle of a goat, and the 
hind part that of a dragon. 

These are the chief mythological monsters, thus rapidly 
enumerated, but other creatures, half-human, half-animal, 
are of greater interest psychologically. For instance, the 
Persians believe firmly in ghouls which wander in lonely 
and haunted places, lure travellers from their path and 
devour them. They are hideous in shape and give forth 
blood-curdling screams. Being able to assume any 
animal form at will, they often appear as camels or 


mules, or perhaps even simulate a human being well- 
known to their intended victim. The charm against 
them is to utter the name of the Prophet in all sincerity. 

The Persians also believe in divs or cat-headed men 
with horns and hoofs. J inns or Afreets can turn them- 
selves into animals at will and so no Persian likes to kill 
dogs or cats, lest the angry demons, whose dwelling-place 
they are, should haunt those responsible for evicting them. 

The Satyrs were rural demi-gods, in the shape of men 
but with legs and feet like goats, short horns on the head 
and the body covered with hair. They attended on 
Bacchus and were given to similar excesses. They roamed 
through woods, dwelt in caves, and endeavoured to gain 
the loves of the Nymphs. They were identical with 
Fauns, Panes or Sylvani, the human-goat wood-spirits. 
They should not be confused with the Nature-Spirits 
described by Paracelsus, though similar in name. 

In Russia wood-spirits are believed to appear partly 
in human shape, but also with horns, ears, and legs of 
goats. They are called Ljeschi and can change their 
shape and size, in a forest, being large like trees ; in a 
meadow, merely the height of the grass. 

The Griffin was half-lion and half-eagle, and appar- 
ently had no human characteristics. 

The Mermaid is a fabulous marine creature, partly 
woman and partly fish. The Nereides were sea-nymphs, 
daughters of Nereus, the ancient sea-god and his wafe 
Doris. They were at least fifty in number (Propertius 
says a hundred), and they had green hair and fishes' 
tails. The most celebrated of them all were Amphitrite, 
wife of Neptune, Thetis, mother of Achilles, Galatea, 
and Doto. They are identical with the Sirens. 

Many charming stories have been told of Mermaids, 
and Mermaid-prophetesses. 

According to the old Danish ballad a mermaid fore- 
told the death of Queen Dagmar, wife of Valdemar II, 
surnamed the Victorious. 

" In the year 1576," says the Chronicle of Frederick II 


o£ Denmark, " there came late in the autumn a simple 
old peasant from Samso to the Court then being held at 
Kalundborg, who related that a beautiful female had 
more than once come to him while working in his field 
by the seashore, whose figure, from the waist downwards, 
resembled that of a fish, and who had solemnly and 
strictly enjoined him to go over and announce to the 
king, that as God had blessed his queen so that she was 
pregnant of a son (afterwards Christian IV), who should 
be numbered among the greatest princes of the North, 
and, seeing that all sorts of sins were gaining ground in 
his kingdom, he, in honour of and in gratitude to God 
who had so blessed him, should wholly extirpate such 
sins, lest God should visit him with anger and punish- 
ment thereafter." 1 

In the Shetland Isles mermaids are said to dwell among 
the fishes, in the depths of the ocean, in mansions of 
pearl and coral. They resemble human beings, but 
greatly excel them in beauty. When they wish to visit 
the earth they put on the ham or garb of some fish, but 
if they lose this garment, all hopes of return are annihil- 
ated and they must stay where they are. 

A mermaid was found by a fisherman called Pergrin 
at St. Dognael's, near Cardigan, and he took her prisoner, 
but she wept bitterly and said to him, " If you will let 
me go, Pergrin, I will call to you three times at the 
moment of your greatest need." Moved by her distress, 
he obeyed and almost forgot the incident, but some weeks 
later he was fishing on a hot, calm day, when he heard 
distinctly, the call, thrice repeated, " Pergrin, take up 
thy nets." This he did in great haste, and by the time 
he reached the harbour a terrible storm had come up, 
and all the other fishermen who had not been warned 
were drowned. This story, it is claimed, belongs to 
other parts of Wales also. 

There is said to be a castle in Finland, on the borders 
of a small lake, out of which, previously to the death of 
1 Thorpe, B., " Northern Mythology," 1851, Vol. II, p. 173. 


the Governor, an apparition in the form of a mermaid 
arises and makes sweet melody. 

One of the most charming descriptions of a Sea- 
maiden is found in Hans Andersen's well-known story of 
" The Little Mermaid." Her skin is as soft and delicate 
as a rose-leaf, her eyes are as deep a blue as the sea, but 
like all other mermaids, she has no feet ; her body ends 
in a tail like that of a fish. For many years she plays 
happily in the enchanted palace of the Mer-king, her 
father, but when she reaches years of discretion she visits 
the earth and falls in love with a handsome prince, for- 
saking her home and family and giving away her beauti- 
ful voice for love of him. But she does more even than 
this, for she has to appeal to a witch to transform her 
into a maiden like the others who walk on land, and the 
process is a terribly painful one. The witch prepares a 
drink she has to take with her on her journey to the 
unknown country, and she is told that she must sit 
down on the shore and swallow the draught, and that then 
her tail will fall and shrink up " to the things which men 
call legs." When she walks or dances the pain will be as 
though she were walking on the sharp edge of swords or 
the edges of ploughshares. But she braves all these terrors 
and dances more gracefully than ever any earth-maiden 
could do, hoping that her prince will marry her and so 
give her the right to an immortal soul. Then the real 
tragedy occurs, for the prince loves her only as a beautiful 
child, and he marries a princess of his own kind, so that 
the mermaid's sacrifice seems to be thrown away. If 
she wishes to return to her original state she has to kill 
the prince, but when she holds the knife over him as 
he sleeps beside his beautiful bride she cannot find it in 
her heart to harm him, and sooner than think of her own 
forlorn condition, she throws the knife into the sea and 
gives up, as she believes, her last hope of happiness. 
But then her reward comes, for she is borne into the air 
by the daughters of that element, and the story ends 
with a promise of a new and a lovelier existence. 


Mr. H. G. Wells, among recent writers, has used the 
idea of the mermaid in his quaint story " The Sea Lady." 

The famous mermaid figures in the coat-of-arms of 
several well-known families. Sometimes she holds a 
mirror, sometimes a mirror and comb. A red mermaid 
with yellow hair on a white field appears in the arms of 
the family living at Glasfryn in the south of Carnarvon- 

Other marine monsters besides mermaids are some- 
times found in the sea, which, without corresponding 
exactly to man, yet resemble him more than any other 
animals. However, like the rest of the brutes, they lack 
mind or soul. They have, says Paracelsus, the same 
relations to man as the ape and are nothing but the apes 
of the sea. 

Merovingian princes traced their origin to a sea- 
monster, and Druid priestesses claimed to be able to 
assume animal form and to rule wind and wave. Indeed, 
since men first sought to classify other living organisms, 
they have credited nature with producing strange and 
weird monsters, half-human, half-animal, which exist 
either in their own imaginations or in realms beyond the 
material plane of everyday cognisance. 

In the third Calmuc tale, a man who possesses but one 
cow unites himself to her in order that she may become 
fruitful, and a tailed monster is born having a man's 
body and a bull's head. This man-bull, who is Minotaur, 
goes into the forest and picks up three companions, one 
black, one green, one white, who accompany him. He 
overcomes the enchantments of a dwarf witch, and when 
lowered into a well by his companions, he manages to 
escape. Presently he meets a beautiful maiden drawing 
water, at whose every footstep a flower springs, and 
following her, finds himself in heaven. 

The classical Minotaurus is said to have been the off- 
spring of Pasiphae and a bull sent from the sea to Minos, 
who shut the half-human monster in the Cnossian 
labyrinth and fed him with the bodies of the youths and 


maidens sent by the Athenians as a tribute. This monster 
was slain by Theseus. 

Among modern writers, Mr. H. G. Wells has perhaps 
been the most daring in describing monsters. In *' The 
Island of Dr. Moreau," Dr. Moreau explains to Pendrick 
his method of making humanised animals. " These crea- 
tures you have seen are animals carven and wrought into 
new shapes," he says. " To that — to the study of plas- 
ticity of living forms — my life has been devoted. I have 
studied for years, gaining knowledge as I go. I see you 
look horrified, yet I am telling you nothing new. It all 
lay in the surface of practical anatomy years ago, but no 
one had the temerity to touch it. It's not simply the 
outward form of an animal I can change. The physio- 
logy, the chemical rhythm of the creature, may also be 
made to undergo an enduring modification, of which 
vaccination and other methods of inoculation with 
living or dead matter are examples that will, no doubt, 
be familiar to you. A similar operation is the transfusion 
of blood, with which subject indeed I began. These are 
all familiar cases. Less so, and probably far more 
extensive, were the operations of those mediaeval practi- 
tioners who made dwarfs and beggar cripples and show- 
monsters ; some vestiges of whose art still remains in 
the preliminary manipulation of the young mountebank 
or contortionist. Victor Hugo gives an account of them 
in UHomme qui Rit . . . but perhaps my meaning 
grows plain now. You begin to see that it is a possible 
thing to transplant tissue from one part of an animal to 
another, or from one animal to another, to alter its 
chemical reactions and methods of growth, to modify 
the articulations of its limbs, and indeed to change it 
in its most intimate structure ? . . ." 

^' So for twenty years altogether — counting nine years 
in England — I have been going on, and there is still 
something in everything I do that defeats me, makes me 
dissatisfied, challenges me to further effort. Sometimes 
I rise above my level, sometimes I fall below it, but 


always I fall short of the things I dream. The human 
shape I can get now almost with ease, so that it is lithe 
and graceful, or thick and strong ; but often there is 
trouble with the hands and claws — painful things that I 
dare not shape too freely. But it is in the subtle grafting 
and reshaping one must needs do to the brain that my 
trouble lies. The intelligence is often oddly low, with 
unaccountable blank ends, unexpected gaps. And least 
satisfactory of all is something that I cannot touch, 
somewhere — I cannot determine where — in the seat of 
the emotions. Cravings, instincts, desires that harm 
humanity, a strange hidden reservoir to burst suddenly 
and inundate the whole being of the creature with anger, 
hate, or fear. These creatures of mine seemed strange 
and uncanny to you as soon as you began to observe 
them, but to me, just after I make them, they seem to 
be indisputably human beings. It's afterwards, as I 
observe them, that the persuasion fades. First one 
animal trait, then another, creeps to the surface and 
stares at me. . . . But I will conquer yet. Each time 
I dip a living creature into the bath of burning pain, I 
say, this time I will burn out all the animal, this time I 
will make a rational creature of my own. After all, what 
is ten years ? Man has been a hundred thousand in the 

" There were swine-men and swine-women," says 
Pendrick later, describing the beast-folk, " a mare 
rhinoceros creature, and several other females I did not 
ascertain. There were several Wolf creatures, a Bear- 
bull, and a Saint Bernard Dog Man. I have already 
described the Ape Man, and there was a particularly 
hateful (and evil-smelling) old woman made of Vixen and 
Bear, whom I hated from the beginning."^ 

'' First to arrive was the Satyr, strangely unreal, for 
all that he cast a shadow, and tossed the dust with his 
hoofs : after him, from the brake, came a monstrous 

1 H. G. Wells, " The Island of Dr. Moreau," 1913, pp. 89-90, 98-99. 

2 Ibid. J p. 106. 


lout, a thing of horse and rhinoceros, chewing a straw 
as it came : and then appeared the Swine Woman and 
two Wolf Women : then the Fox-Bear- Witch, with her 
red eyes in her peaked red face, and then others all hurry- 
ing eagerly."^ 

In another imaginative work dealing with the twenty- 
ninth century a.d., the brute creation has been humanised 
in a way never before dreamt of. 

"... a levy of 40,000 naturalists were engaged for 
years in forming a hundred different zoological armies. 
Each of these was, by an admirable system of drill, 
brought to such a high state of discipline that a brigade, 
consisting of a thousand elephants, a thousand rhinoceroses, 
180,000 monkeys and 15,000 other beasts of draught and 
burden could be officered with perfect ease by as few as 
one thousand naturalists. Birds of burden and fish of 
burden were in like manner drafted into the ranks of 
the zoological army, and, being subjected to similar 
training, were brought to a similar degree of efficiency." ^ 

Giraldus Cambrensis wrote of many curious monsters 
and strange things that happened in connection with 
them. He believed that occult powers came through 
them in some manner, and told the story of a Welshman 
called Melerius, who had an odd experience by which he 
acquired the powers of a seer. One Palm Sunday he 
met a damsel whom he had long loved and embraced 
her in the woods, when suddenly, instead of a beautiful 
girl, he found in his arms a hairy, rough, and hideous 
creature, the sight of which deprived him of his senses. 
On his return to sanity, many years later, he discovered 
that he had wonderful occult gifts of prophecy. 

Giraldus also believed that people in Ireland, by 
magical arts, could turn " any substance about them 
into fat pigs," as they appeared to be, though the colour 
was always red, and could then sell them in the markets. 

^ Ibid., pp. 1 1 5-6. 

2 Annals of the Twenty-ninth Century, Vol. I (Tinsley), London, 
pp. 61-2. 


They disappeared, however, " as soon as they crossed 
any water," and even if they were looked after carefully 
they never lasted as pigs for more than three days. He 
writes of a man-monster whose body was human, except 
the extremities, which were cloven like those of an ox. 
This monster had large round eyes like an ox and the only 
sound he could make was like an ox lowing. He was pre- 
sent at the Court of Maurice Fitzgerald in Wicklow, and 
took up his food between the fissures of his cloven fore- 
feet. His fate was to be put secretly to death, a fate 
which might with advantage be shared, metaphorically 
speaking, by many of the hybrid creatures, or manu- 
factured monstrosities, figments of unwholesome brains. 

Augustine, in the sixteenth book of his '' De Civitate 
Dei," chapter viii., speaks of monsters of the human 
race, born in the East, some having heads of dogs, others 
without heads, and eyes in their breasts. " I myself," he 
adds, " at the time I was in Italy, heard it said of some 
district in those parts, that there the stable women who 
had learnt magical arts, used to give something to 
travellers in their cheese which transformed them into 
beasts of burden, and after they had performed the tasks 
required of them, they were allowed to resume their 
natural form." 

One of the most fearsome among the fabulous animals 
is the dragon, an enormous serpent of abnormal form 
which is represented in ancient legends as a huge Hydra, 
watching as sentinel the Garden of the Hesperides. In 
art the dragon is the symbol of sin, and in the Bible 
this monster appears as the symbol of the King of Egypt 
and the King of Babylon. The dragon, which is the em- 
blem of the Chinese Empire, like the legendary serpent, 
can assume human shape. 

The basilisk is another fabulous animal of the snake 
tribe, which carries a jewel in its head, and in many 
French legends possesses human proclivities. It is the 
king of all the serpents and holds itself erect. Its eyes 
are red and fiery, the face pointed, and upon its head it 


wears a crest like a crown. It has, moreover, the terrible 
gift of killing people by the glare of its eye and other 
serpents are said to fly from its presence in dread. 

The cockatrice is identical with the basilisk, but is 
perhaps not quite so human. It is produced from a 
*' cock's egg hatched by a frog." 

Lilith is the " night-monster," and according to the 
Rabbinical idea, she is a spectre in the figure of a woman 
who, entering houses in the dead of night, seizes upon the 
little children of the household and bears them away to 
murder them. According to some accounts she is not 
unlike Lamia, and has the form of a serpent. 



Since the beginning of tjie world the serpent has been 
regarded as the most mystic of reptiles. He was called 
'' more subtil than any beast of the field," from the day 
on which he spoke to Eve and said that if she ate of the 
fruit of the Tree of Life, her eyes should be opened and 
she should surely not die, and he has been endowed with 
human powers again and again, worshipped as a god in 
every part of the world and depicted in ancient art as 
possessed of human form and attributes. In Aztec 
paintings the mother of the human race is always repre- 
sented in conversation with a serpent who is erect. This 
is the serpent, " who once spoke with a human voice." 

Mythology has numberless legends which tell of 
human or semi-human serpents. The ancient kings of 
Thebes and Delphi claimed kingship with the snake, 
and Cadmus and his wife Harmonia, quitting Thebes, 
went to reign over a tribe of Eel-men in lUyria and be- 
came transformed into snakes, just as now Kaffir kings 
are said to turn into boa-constrictors or other deadly 
serpents, and some other African tribes believe that 
their dead chiefs become crocodiles. 

Cecrops, the first king of Athens, was supposed to 
have been half-serpent and half-man, and Cychreus, 
after slaying a snake which ravaged the island of Salamis, 
appeared in the form of his victim. 

When Minerva contended with Neptune for the city 
of Athens, she created the olive which became sacred to 
her, and she planted it on the Acropolis and placed it in 



the charge of the serpent-god, Erechthonios, who is 
represented as half-serpent, half-man, the lower ex- 
tremities being serpentine. 

The story of Alexander's birth, as told by Plutarch, is 
one of the most curious of the man-serpent traditions. 
Olympias, his mother, kept tame snakes in the house and 
one of them was said to have been found in her bed, 
and was thought to be the real father of Alexander the 
Great. Lucian adopts this view of Alexander's parent- 

The worship of serpent-gods is found amongst many 
nations. The Chinese god Foki, for instance, is said to 
have had the form of a man, terminating in the tail of a 
snake. The same behef in serpent-gods exists among 
the primitive Turanian tribes. The Accadians made the 
serpent one of the principal attributes, and one of the 
forms of Hea, and we find a very important allusion to a 
mythological serpent in the words from an Accadian 
dithyrambus uttered by a god, perhaps by Hea : — 

Like the enormous serpent with seven heads, the weapon with seven 

heads I hold it. 
Like the serpent which beats the waves of the sea attacking the enemy 

in front, 
Devastator in the shock of battle, extending his power over heaven 

and earth, the weapon with (seven) heads (I hold it).^ 

The Story of Crishna is very similar to that of Hercules 
in Grecian mythology, the serpent forming a prominent 
feature in both. Crishna conquers a dragon, into which 
the Assoor Aghe had transformed himself to swallow him 
up. He defeats also KaUi Naga (the black or evil spirit 
with a thousand heads) who, placing himself in the bed 
of the river Jumna, poisoned the stream, so that all the 
companions of Crishna and his cattle, who tasted of it, 
perished. He overcame KalU Naga, without arms, and 
in the form of a child. The serpent twisted himself 
about the body of Crishna, but the god tore off his heads, 
one after the other, and trampled them under his feet. 
1 Lenormant, F., " Chaldean Magic," 1877, p. 232. 


Before he had completely destroyed Kalli Naga, the wife 
and children of the monster (serpents also) came and 
besought him to release their relative. Crishna took pity 
on them, and releasing Kalli Naga, said to him, " Begone 
quickly into the abyss : this place is not proper for thee 
since I have engaged with thee, thy name shall remain 
through all the period of time and devatars and men 
shall henceforth remember thee without dismay." So 
the serpent with his wife and children went into the 
abyss, and the water which had been affected by his 
poison became pure and wholesome.^ 

Crishna also destroyed the serpent-king of Egypt and 
his army of snakes. 

Lamia was an evil spirit having the semblance of a 
serpent, with the head, or at least the mouth, of a 
beautiful woman, whose whole figure the demon assumed 
for the purpose of securing the love of some man whom, 
it was supposed, she desired to tear to pieces and devour. 
Lycius is said to have fallen in love with one of these 
spirits, but was delivered by his master, Apollonius, who, 
" by some probable conjectures," found her out to be a 
serpent, a lamia?" 

Keats made use of this idea in his poem, " Lamia." 
Later the word was used to mean a witch or enchantress. 
Melusina was another beautiful serpent-woman who dis- 
appeared from her husband's presence every Saturday, 
and turned into a human fish or serpent. 

A modern version of the legend of Melusina is found 
in Wales. To assume the shape of a snake, witches pre- 
pared special charms, and sometimes a ban was placed 
upon enemies by which they turned into snakes for 
a time. 

A young farmer in Anglesea went to South Wales and 
there he met a handsome girl whose eyes were " some- 
times blue, sometimes grey, and sometimes like emeralds," 
but they always sparkled and glittered. He fell in love 

^ Deane, J. B., " The Worship of the Serpent," 1833, PP- 344~5- 
2 Burton, " Anatomy of Melancholy," 1881, p. 495. 


with her at first sight, and she agreed to become his wife 
if he would allow her to disappear twice a year for a 
fortnight without questioning her as to where she went. 
To this arrangement the young husband agreed. 

For some years he did not trouble himself about his 
wife's absence, but his mother began nagging at him, 
saying that he ought to find out where she went and what 
she did. Taking his mother's advice, he disguised himself 
and followed his wife to a lonely part of a forest not 
far from their home. Hiding himself behind a huge 
rock, he noticed from this point of vantage that his wife 
took off her girdle and threw it down in the deep grass 
near a dark pool. Then she vanished, and the next 
moment he saw a large and handsome snake glide through 
the grass, just where she had been standing. He chased 
the reptile, but the snake disappeared into a hole near 
the pool. The husband went home and waited patiently 
for his wife's return, and when she came, he requested 
her to tell him where she had been. This she refused to 
do, and when he asked her what she did with her girdle, 
she blushed painfully. 

The next time when she was intending to go away, he 
seized and hid the girdle, and thus deferred her depar- 
ture. She was taken ill, and he, hoping to rid her of a 
baneful charm, threw the girdle in the fire. Then his 
wife writhed in agony, and when the girdle was burnt up 
she died. The neighbours called her the Snake- Woman 
of the South on account of this strange story of her 

A shoemaker in the Vale of Taff married a widow for 
her money and, as love seemed lacking on both sides, 
it was not long before serious quarrels occurred between 
the couple. Although it was said that hard blows were 
struck on both sides, the neighbours remarked that it 
was strange the shoemaker's wife appeared amongst them 
without a trace of a bruise on her person. At night loud 

^ Trevelyan, Marie, " Folklore and Folk-stories of Wales," 1909, pp. 


cries and deep groans arose from the shoemaker's dwell- 
ing, and a certain gentleman of an inquisitive turn of 
mind decided to discover what took place and hid himself 
in a loft over the kitchen, to spy on the couple. What- 
ever he may have learnt during the proceedings, he said 
nothing, and a report was spread that he had been '' paid 
to hold his tongue and not divulge the family secret." 
At last, however, his discretion failed him, and anger 
against the shoemaker, with whom he fell into a dispute, 
made him reveal what he knew. He said that as soon as 
angry words passed between husband and wife, the latter 
*' assumed from the shoulders upwards, the shape of a 
snake, and deliberately and maliciously sucked her partner's 
blood and pierced him with her venomous fangs." 

No marks were found on the husband's body, but he 
grew ever thinner and weaker, and after ailing for many 
months he died. The doctor who tended him in his last 
illness declared that he had died from the poisonous sting 
of a serpent. After this verdict the spy was given the 
credit of his story, which, however, had a gruesome 
sequel. He and the doctor were found lying helpless in 
the churchyard one morning. When roused from what 
seemed a fatal slumber, they said they had been invited 
by the shoemaker's widow to drink with her in memory 
of her late dear second husband. Then she sprang upon 
them in the shape of a snake and stung them severely. 
They had only strength enough left to crawl to the church- 
yard, where they would probably have died from torpor 
had not the neighbours roused them. The widow was 
never seen again, but a snake constantly appeared in the 
neighbourhood and could not be killed by any means, 
so that it earned the name of " the old snake-woman."^ 

Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was interested in the 
subject of prenatal influences, depicted the heroine of 
his well-known novel, " Elsie Venner," as a girl who had 
received the taint of a serpent before birth, from a snake- 
bite suffered by her mother. 

^ Ibid.y pp. 302-3. 


Elsie's friend, Helen Darley, knew the secret of the 
fascination which looked out of the cold, glittering eyes. 
She knew the significance of the strange repulsion which 
she felt in her own intimate consciousness underlying the 
inexplicable attraction which drew her towards the young 
girl in spite of her repugnance. 

When Elsie was taken ill her doctor said that she had 
lived a double being, as it were, the consequence of the 
bHght which fell upon her in the dim period before 

" Elsie Venner " is an American story, but India, where 
the snake is even more famihar, is the home of many 
human-serpent stories, and legends of serpent descent. 

Near Jait in the Mathura district is a tank with the 
broken statue of a hooded serpent on it. Once upon a 
time a Raja married a princess from a distant country 
and, after a short stay there, decided to take his wife 
home, but she refused to go until he had declared his 
Hneage. The Raja told her she would regret her curiosity, 
but she persisted. Finally he took her to the river and 
there warned her again. She would not take heed and he 
entreated her not to be alarmed at whatever she saw, 
adding that if she did she would lose him. Saying this, 
he began slowly to descend into the water, all the time 
trying to dissuade her from her purpose, till it became 
too late and the water rose to his neck. Then, after a 
last attempt to induce her to give up her curiosity, he 
dived and reappeared in the form of a Naga (serpent). 
Raising his hood over the water he said, " This is my 
Hneage ! I am a Nagbansi." 

His wife could not suppress an exclamation of grief, 
on which the Naga was turned into stone, where he Hes 
to this day.^ 

A member of the family of Buddha fell in love with 

the daughter of a serpent-king. He was married to her 

and presently became the sovereign of the country. His 

wife had obtained possession of a human body, but a 

1 " North Indian Notes and Queries," April, 1892, p. 12, No. 52. 


nine-headed snake occasionally appeared at the back of 
her neck. While she slept one night her husband chopped 
the serpent in two at a single blow, and this caused her 
to become blind. 

Another curious legend is told of a Buddha priest 
who had become a serpent because he had killed the 
tree Elapatra, and he then resided in a beautiful lake near 
Taxila. In the days of Hiuen-Tsiang, when the people 
of the country wanted fine weather or rain they went to 
the spring accompanied by a priest, and, " snapping their 
fingers, invoked the serpent," and immediately obtained 
their wishes. 

The snake tribe is common enough in the Punjaub. 
Snake families go through many ceremonies, saying that 
in olden days the serpent was a great king. If they find 
a dead snake they put clothes on it and give it a regular 
funeral. The snake changes its form every hundred 
years, when it becomes either a man or a bull. Snake- 
charmers have the power of recognising these transformed 
snakes, and follow them stealthily until they return to 
their holes and then ask them where treasure is hidden. 
This they will do on consideration of a drop of blood 
from the little finger of a first-born son.^ 

Among fairy tales the favourite story is that of a 
human being who dons a snake-skin, and when it is burnt 
he resumes human form. The snake-bridegroom is an 
exceedingly popular version of this idea.* 

There was once a poor woman, who had never borne a 
child and she prayed to God that she might be blessed 
with one, even though she were to bring forth a snake. 
And God heard her prayer, and in due course she gave 
birth to a snake. Directly the reptile saw the light of 
day it sHpped down from her lap into the grass and dis- 
appeared. Now the poor woman mourned constantly 
for the snake, because after God had heard and granted 
her prayer, it grieved her that the being whom she 

1 " Punjab Notes and Queries," March, 1885, No. 555. 

2 Karajic, " Volksmarchen der Serben," 1854, P- 77 


had conceived should have vanished without leaving a 
trace as to its whereabouts. Twenty years passed, and 
then the snake returned and said to its mother, " I am 
the serpent to which you gave birth, and which fled 
from you into the grass, and I have come back, mother, 
so that you may demand the king's daughter for me in 

At first the mother rejoiced at the sight of her son, 
but soon she grew mournful because she did not know 
how she dare to demand the hand of the king's daughter 
for a serpent, especially as she was very poor. But the 
serpent said, " Go along, mother, and do what I ask ; 
even if the king won't give his daughter, he can't cut 
your head off for the mere asking. But whatever he says 
to you do not look back until you get home again." 

The mother allowed herself to be persuaded and went 
to the king. At first the servants would not let her into 
the palace, but she went on asking until they admitted 
her. When she entered the king's presence she said to 
him, " Most gracious Majesty, there is your sword and 
here is my head. Strike if you must, but let me tell you 
first that for a long time I was childless and then I prayed 
to God to bless me, even though I were to bring forth a 
serpent, and He blessed me and I brought forth a serpent. 
As soon as it saw the light it vanished into the grass and 
after twenty years it has returned to me and has sent me 
here to ask for the hand of your daughter in marriage." 

The king burst into laughter and said, " I will give 
my daughter to your son if he builds me a bridge of 
pearls and precious stones from my palace to his house." 

Then the mother turned to go home, and never looked 
back, and when she left the palace a bridge of pearls and 
diamonds arose all the way behind her till she reached 
her own house. When the mother told the serpent what 
the king had said, the serpent remarked to her, " Go again 
and see whether the king will give me his daughter, but 
whatever he answers don't look round as you come back." 

This time the king told the mother that if her son 


could give his daughter a better palace than his own, he 
should have her for a wife. The mother went back 
without looking behind her, and found that her house 
had changed into a palace, and everything in it was three 
times as good as in the king's palace. All the furniture 
was made of pure gold. 

Then the serpent asked his mother to go back to the 
palace and fetch the king's daughter, and this time the 
king told the princess she must marry the serpent. There 
was a splendid wedding, and in due course the young wife 
found she was to become a mother. Then her friends 
grew inquisitive, saying, " If you are living with a ser- 
pent how can you hope to have a child ? " At first she 
would not answer, but when her mother-in-law insisted 
on putting the same question, she replied, " Mother, 
your son is not really a serpent, but a young man, so 
handsome that there is none other like him. Every 
evening he strips off his snake-skin and in the morning 
he enters it again." 

When the serpent's mother heard this she rejoiced 
greatly, and longed to see her son after he had stripped 
off his snake-skin. 

Presently the two conspirators arranged that when the 
young man had gone to bed, they should burn the dis- 
carded skin, and while his mother put it in the oven, his 
wife was to pour cold water on her husband lest he should 
be destroyed by the heat. No sooner had he laid him- 
self down to sleep, than they carried out their plan, but 
the smell of the burning skin made him cry out, " What 
have you done ? May God punish you. Where can I 
go in the condition I now am ? " But the women com- 
forted him and said it was better for him to live among 
ordinary mortals than in the snake form, and before long 
the king resigned his throne in his favour, and all turned 
out happily. 

A very similar story is told of a queen who also gives 
birth tc a serpent.^ She is allowed to nurse and fondle 

1 Ibid., p. 82 ff. 


her offspring in the usual fashion, but for twenty-two 
years it does not speak and its first utterance is to demand 
from its parents a wife. 

When the parents remark that no nice girl would care 
to marry a serpent, he tells them not to look in too high 
a class for a mate. 

In this case the father does the wooing, but the mother 
evokes the truth about her son. When she learns about 
the snake-skin, she makes the young wife help to burn it, 
and tragedy results. The husband curses his wife, saying 
that she will not see him again until she has worn through 
iron shoes, and that she shall not give birth to her child 
until he embraces her once more by putting his right 
arm round her. Then he vanishes for three years, and 
all that time she is unable to bear her child, so she 
decides to seek her husband. She travels through the 
world and comes to the house of the Sun's mother, and 
when the Sun comes indoors she inquires whether he has 
seen her husband. But the Sun can do nothing for her 
but to send her to the Moon. The same disappointment 
awaits her there, and the Moon sends her to the Winds. 
After many striking adventures she finds her husband, 
makes him undo his curse, and gives birth to a son who 
has golden locks and golden hands. 

^ In another story of serpent-marriage a woman stands 
in doubt because she cannot cross a river. A serpent 
comes out of the river and says, " What will you give 
me if I carry you across ? " The woman, having no 
other possessions, promises to give her coming child ; 
if it is a girl as a wife, if a boy as a " name friend." In 
after years she has to fulfil her promise and, taking her 
daughter to the bank of the river, she sees the snake 
draw her beneath the water. In the course of time the 
girl bears her husband four snake sons.^ 

An Ainu girl gave birth to a snake as the result of the 
sun's rays shining on her while she slept, and the snake 
turned into a child. 

1 Bompai, C. H., " Folk-lore of the Santal Parganas," 1909, p. 452. 


The Dyaks and Silakans will not kill the cobra because 
in remote ages a female ancestor brought forth twins, a 
boy and a cobra. The cobra went to the forest, but told 
the mother to warn her children that if they were ever 
bitten by cobras they must stay in the same place for a 
whole day and that then the venom would take no effect. 
The boy then met his cobra brother in the jungle one 
day and cut off his tail, so that now all cobras have a 
blunted tail. 

In folk-tales the serpent frequently mates with a 
woman. A curious Basuto story concerns a girl called 
Senkepeng, who was deserted by her friends and taken 
home by an old woman, who said she would make a nice 
wife for her son. Her son turned out to be a serpent, 
whom no one had ever seen outside his hut, but he had 
married all the girls of the tribe in succession with fatal 
results to them, because he ate all the food. Every 
morning the girl was awakened by a blow of the serpent's 
tail and was then ordered to go and prepare his food. 
At last she grew tired of this treatment and resolved to 
run away. Her serpent-husband pursued her, but she 
sang a charm or incantation and this delayed his progress 
and gave her a chance of continuing her flight. When- 
ever the serpent came up to her she repeated her song. 

At last she reached her father's village and told her 
story, and people were ready to defend her against her 
pursuer. As soon as the serpent came in sight Senkepeng 
sang her charm, and the people attacked the serpent and 
slew it. Presently the serpent's mother arrived and burnt 
the mutilated corpse, wrapping the ashes in a skin which 
she threw into a pond. Walking three times round the 
pond, without speaking a word, she caused her son to 
come to life again, and he came out of the pond as a 
human being, and Senkepeng welcomed him as her 
husband. In another variant the serpent's ashes are 
put in a vase of clay, which is given to Senkepeng. After- 
wards she uncovers the vase and a man steps out from it.^ 

1 Macculloch, J. A., " The Childhood of Fiction," 1905, pp. 264-5. 


The first Dindje Indian had two wives, one o£ whom 
would have nothing to say to him. She used to disappear 
during the day, and he followed her to find out her 
secret. He saw her go into a marsh where she met a 
serpent. When she returned to the hut she had several 
children, but hid them from her husband under a cover. 
The man discovered the hiding-place, and there found 
horrible little men-serpents, w^hich he killed. There- 
upon the woman left him and he never saw her again. 

In a Bengal story a mighty serpent, after slaughtering 
a whole family except one beautiful daughter, carries 
her off to his watery tank, from which she is rescued by 
a prince. In Russia it is believed that mortal maidens 
are carried off by serpents. 

The Indians are very superstitious. Otto Stoll, author 
of " Suggestion und Hypnotismus,"^ showed a friendly 
Cakchiquel Indian one of his hairs under the microscope. 
The Indian asked to have it back that he might preserve 
it, saying that if it were lost, it would turn into a snake, 
and he would then have to suffer great trouble through 
snakes all his life. When Dr. Stoll appeared to be 
sceptical, he told him that he had often seen the long 
hairs which native women combed out and let fall into 
the river, become transformed into serpents as they fell. 
This is a widespread belief, and in an early Mexican 
dictionary by Molina, in 1571, the word " tzoncoatl " is 
translated, " the snake which is formed out of horse's 
hair which fell into the water." 

The white snake especially may sometimes be a lovely 
transformed maiden, as appears from the story of a cow- 
boy who makes a friend of a white snake which comes to 
play with him and twines about his legs. One evening 
in midsummer he beholds a fair maiden, who says she is 
the daughter of an Eastern king and has been forced to 
spend her life through enchantment in the form of a 
white snake, with permission to resume human shape on 
midsummer night every quarter of a century. The cow- 

^ Leipzig, 1904. 


boy is the first human being who has not shrunk from her 
when she appears in reptile form. She tells him that she 
will come again, and will wind herself three times round 
his body and give him three kisses. If he should shrink 
from her then she will have to remain a snake for ever. 
When she appears, the youth stands firm while the reptile 
caresses him and, lo and behold, there is a crash and a 
flash and he finds himself in a magnificent palace, with a 
beautiful girl beside him who becomes his wife. 

The Russians have a story of some girls bathing, when 
a snake comes out of the water and sits upon the clothes 
of the prettiest one, saying he will not move till she 
promises to marry him. She agrees, and that very night 
an army of snakes seize her and carry her beneath the 
water, where they become men and women. She stays 
for some years with her husband, and is then allowed to 
go home and visit her mother. The latter, discovering 
the husband's name, goes to the water and calls upon 
him. When he comes to the surface she chops off his 
head with an axe. Probably the snake-bride has been 
told by her husband not to mention his name for fear of 
his death, the name being taboo. 

In a Zuni legend the daughter of a chief bathes in a 
pool sacred to Kolowissa, the serpent of the sea. Kolo- 
wissa in anger appears to the maiden in the form of a 
child, whom she takes to her home. There the child 
changes into an enormous serpent, who induces her to 
go away with him, and when she does so he transforms 
himself again into a handsome youth. 

Incredulous that such happiness can befall her, she 
expresses her doubts to the young man, but he then 
shows her his shrivelled snake-skin as proof that he is the 
god of the waters and that he loves her well enough to 
make her his wife.^ 

A beautiful girl in New Guinea was beloved by a 
chief of a strange tribe, and he was so fearful of entering 
her father's territory that he asked a sorcerer for a charm 

1 Macculloch, J. A., " The Childhood of Fiction," 1905, pp. 256-8. 


which would enable him to change into a snake the 
moment he crossed the boundary of his own country. In 
this form he entered the girl's hut, and on seeing the 
reptile she began to scream. Her father, however, was 
more astute and saw the serpent was really a man, so he 
bade his daughter to go to him, as he must be a great 
chief to be thus able to transform himself. She obeyed 
his command, and as the serpent went slowly, her father 
advised her to burn his tail with a hot banana leaf to 
make him hurry. This she also did, but at the boundary 
the snake vanished and presently a handsome young 
man came up to her and told her he was the serpent, 
showing certain burns on his feet and legs in proof of 
the statement.^ 

In France the serpent with a jewel in its head is called 
vouivre, which is the same as our basilisk or dragon. The 
vouivre is a reptile from a yard to two yards long, having 
only one eye in its head, which shines like a jewel and is 
called the carbuncle. This jewel is regarded as of in- 
estimable value, and those who can obtain one of 
these treasures become enormously rich. Many of the 
legends deal with the robbery of this jewel from the 
serpent, a crime which is frequently punishable by death 
or madness. 

The French have several variants of the story of St. 
George and the Dragon. At the castle of Vaugrenans, 
for instance, there lived a lovely lady whose beauty had 
led her far astray from the path of virtue. She was 
changed into a basihsk and terrorised the country by her 
misdeeds. Her son George was a handsome knight, whose 
natural piety led him to live a life of good deeds. George 
decided that he must set his country free from the 
depredations of the monster reptile, which never ceased 
to prey upon the neighbourhood and he did battle with 
it as once the archangel, St. Michael, had combated the 
dragon. George killed the serpent and his horse trampled 
what remained of it beneath its hoofs. 

1 Ibid., p. 259. 


George was very sad, however, in spite of his victory, 
and he asked St. Michael, who had witnessed the struggle, 
what was the punishment for one who had slain his own 

" He ought to be burnt," replied St. Michael, " and 
his ashes strewn to the winds." 

So George had to suffer the penalty of being burnt 
and his ashes were scattered to the winds. So far the 
story bears a marked resemblance to the family story of 
the Lambton worm, but the French tale has a curious 
sequel. The ashes fell in one heap instead of scattering 
to the wind, and a young girl who was passing gathered 
them up. Near by she found an apple of Paradise, which 
she ate. In due course she gave birth to a son, and when 
the infant was baptised, it cried in a loud tone of voice, 
" I am called George and I have been born on this earth 
for the second time." Later he was made a saint. 

The Roman genius, which accompanies every man 
through life as his protector, frequently took the shape 
of a serpent. 

In many lands, by eating a snake, wisdom is acquired, 
or the language of animals mastered, and generally a 
particular snake is mentioned by name. Thus with 
Arabs and Swahilis it is the king of snakes : among 
Swedish, Danish, Celtic or Slavonic peoples it is a white 
snake or the fabulous basilisk with a crown on its head, 
which resembles the jewel-headed serpent of Eastern 

In the country of Rama there stood a brick stupa or 
tower, about a hundred feet high, in the time of Hiuen- 
Tsiang. The stupa constantly emitted rays of glory, 
and by the side of it was a Naga tank. The Naga fre- 
quently changed his appearance into that of a man, and, 
as such, encircled the tower in the practice of religion, 
that is, he turned religiously with his right hand towards 
the tower. ^ 

In New Guinea it is believed that a witch is possessed 

^ Shaman Hwui Li, " The Life of Hiuen-Tsiang," 191 1, p. 96. 


by spirits which can be expelled in the form of snakes. 
Among the Ainus, madness is explained as possession by 
snakes. The Zulus believe that an ancestor who wishes 
to approach a kraal takes serpent shape. In Madagascar 
different species of snakes are the abode for different 
classes, one for common people, one for chiefs, and one 
for women, and in certain parts of Europe it is solemnly 
believed that people may assume serpent-form during 

The fact that the serpent-stories of the nature here 
collected, are so numerous seems to point to a definite 
occult connection between the highest living organism, 
man, who is represented by a vertical line, and the reptile, 
the serpent, represented by the horizontal line, the two 
together forming the right angles 


The cat, as appears from many legends, easily holds the 
place amongst mystic animals that the serpent has among 
reptiles, partly no doubt because of its close relationship 
with sorcerers and witches. 

Among the strange animal-gods and goddesses of Egypt 
none is more famous than the goddess Sekhet and Bast 
of Bubastis, who sometimes has the head of a lion, some- 
times of a cat. The early inhabitants of the valley of the 
Nile were better acquainted with the lion than with the 
cat, which was first introduced from Nubia in the eleventh 
dynasty. In the time of the old Empire there was no 
cat-headed deity chiefly because there were no cats. 
When once introduced, the cat became a sacred animal 
and Sekhet's lion-head was superseded by a milder feline 
form. The Egyptians also believed that Diana, wishing 
to escape from giants, chose to hide herself in the form 
of a cat. 

Cats, like foxes, are credited in Japan with the power of 
assuming human shape in order to bewitch mankind. 
The two-tailed vampire cat destroys a beautiful maiden 
and, taking her form, preys on a handsome prince. 

A man who kills a cat is liable to be possessed by a 
cat, and he prevents this if he eats part of the animal. 
This homeopathic cure is called cat-punishment. At 
Aix in Provence, on the day of Corpus Christi, the largest 
tom-cat is dressed in swaddling clothes and publicly 
exhibited in a magnificent shrine.^ 

I " The Gentlemen's Magazine," 1882, Vol. I, p. 60, 



There is a well-known story of a traveller who saw a 
procession of cats in a ruined abbey lowering a small 
coffin with a crown on it into a grave. Filled with fear, 
he rushed from the spot and later told his vision to a 
friend. The friend's cat lay curled up quietly before the 
fire, but, hearing the story, it sprang up and crying out, 
^' Now I am king of the cats ! " disappeared in a flash up 
the chimney. 

An inhabitant of Toulon told Berenger-Feraud,^ in 
1875, that one of his friends had a wizard cat. Every 
evening the cat used to listen to their conversation, and 
if the subject interested him, he expressed his own 
opinion, usually saying the last word on the topic. If his 
mistress had any plans on hand, she consulted the cat, 
giving her reasons for taking one course or another. 
After having weighed the pros and cons carefully, the 
cat used to advise her by saying " yes " or " no " as to 
whether her pkns could be carried out or not. 

The cat used to speak whenever he wanted food, asking 
either for fish or meat to be purchased, and he talked 
very indignantly if the required dainty was not forth- 

From time to time this uncanny animal disappeared 
for many days at a stretch ; and the members of the 
household were convinced that he had taken human form 
in his absence. He always used to speak before leaving 
and after returning. 

When he lay on the point of death he prayed that his 
body might be decently buried, and his mistress gave 
him a solemn promise to this effect and laid the corpse 
in a box which she interred behind the cemetery wall. 
She dare not bury it in the grave prepared for human 
beings, but the coffin was laid alongside a Christian tomb, 
and at the funeral the cat's soul was recommended to 
the care of his Creator. 

Wizard cats have been known to do serious harm to 
those against whom they have a grudge, and it is well to 

^ " Superstitions et Survivances," 1896, Vol. V, p. 33. 


be sure, if you value your life, whether you are dealing 
with a real animal or a " familiar " when you feel angry. 

A young man in Radnorshire had the reputation of 
being very cruel to cats. On the day he was to 
be married he saw a cat cross his path, and he threw a 
stone at it. From that moment he weakened in health 
and had to go away frequently to recuperate. The 
neighbours said that during these absences he was changed 
into a cat and ran wild in the woods and, after his death, 
tradition declared that he wandered through the district 
at night in the shape of a cat and struck terror in the 
hearts of naughty children. 

General Sir Thomas Edward Gordon tells the follow- 
ing story of a modern instance in which a man was said 
to be transformed into a cat after death.^ 

" For twenty-five years an oral addition to the written 
standing orders of the native guard at Government 
House near Poona had been communicated regularly 
from one guard to another on relief, to the effect that 
any cat passing out of the front door after dark was to 
be regarded as His Excellency the Governor, and to be 
saluted accordingly. The meaning of this was that Sir 
Robert Grant, Governor of Bombay, had died there in 
1838, and on the evening of the day of his death a cat 
was seen to leave the house by the front door and walk 
up and down a particular path, as had been the Governor's 
habit to do after sunset. A Hindu sentry had observed 
this, and he mentioned it to the others of his faith, who 
made it a subject of superstitious conjecture, the result 
being that one of the priestly class explained the mystery 
of the dogma of the transmigration of the soul from one 
body to another, and interpreted the circumstance to 
mean that the spirit of the deceased Governor had entered 
into one of the house pets. 

" It was difficult to fix on a particular one, and it was 
therefore decided that every cat passing out of the main 
entrance after dark was to be regarded as the tabernacle 

^ " A Varied Life," 1906, pp. 56-7. 


of Governor Grant's soul, and to be treated with due 
respect and the proper honours. This decision was 
accepted without question by all the native attendants 
and others belonging to Government House. The whole 
guard, from sepoy to sibadar, fully acquiesced in it, and 
an oral addition was made to the standing orders that the 
sentry at the front door would ' present arms ' to any 
cat passing out there after dark." 

A strange cat-story is told in " Notes and Queries," by 
a writer who knew the lady who had seen the ghost. 

The lady was living with her father about 1840 in an 
ancient country-house which he had rented from an 
elderly heiress. The inmates soon discovered that the 
house was haunted. Strange noises were heard from 
time to time in the dining-room at night : a mysterious 
black cat used to appear in the entrance hall in the evening 
and scamper straight up the main staircase — not ascending 
it in the manner of mortal cats, but by winding itself 
in and out of the balustrade in a decidedly uncanny and 
preternatural way ; and, worst of all, an old gentleman, 
in a black skull cap, yellow dressing-gown and red slippers, 
would come at midnight out of a certain door, cross the 
hall, go upstairs (in a dignified manner and not as the cat 
did) and vanish into an empty bedroom on the first floor. 
All the members of the household used to hear the noises 
and see the old gentleman whenever they were awake 
and downstairs at midnight. As to the " tortuous cat," 
it was vouched for by the servants and duly recorded by 
the lady who told the story. At length the inmates, 
finding the situation unpleasant, courageously deter- 
mined to beard the ghost and give the old gentleman a 
practical and straightforward remonstrance about his 
conduct. On a certain night four men-servants were 
accordingly posted on the staircase, at the head of the 
first flight of stairs, it having been arranged that they 
should stop the intruder if they could, while their master, 
with a loaded pistol, should follow him and cut off his 


At midnight the venerable gentleman emerged from 
his accustomed door. " Here he is ! " cried the master 
of the house, and the servants on the staircase held their 
ground whilst the old gentleman approached silently, 
apparently unconscious of their presence. He came close 
up to the dauntless four, and then, to their amazement, 
he passed straight through them and reappeared on the 
other side. Turning round, they sav^ him calmly gliding 
up the second flight of stairs, above that on which they 
were posted. The master of the house, calling on them 
to follow, gave chase and fired his revolver. The old 
gentleman took no notice of the shot and entered the 
empty bedroom as usual, through its closed door. His 
pursuers opened the door only to find the room empty. 
A thorough search was made, the wainscoting sounded, 
the chimney explored, the cupboards turned out, and so 
forth, but nothing was found but a box containing deeds 
and some money in a forgotten closet. 

The next morning the occupier wrote to the owner of 
the house to tell her of the discovery of the deed-box, and 
at the end of his letter, he inquired casually whether any 
of her relatives had been noted for a peculiarity of dress. 

She replied that her grandfather always used to wear, 
when he was at home and in his study, a black skull cap^ 
a yellow dressing-gown and red slippers. 

After the finding of the deed-box the ghost failed to 
reappear and the companion phantom cat no longer did 
gymnastic exercises on the balustrade. 

A different cause no doubt lies at the root of the appear- 
ance of a phantom cat and of a witch-cat, but it is not 
always easy to distinguish between the varieties of ap- 
paritions. The animals in the following stories bear 
resemblance to witches' familiars. 

A woodman whose dinner was stolen from him daily 
by a cat made many attempts to waylay the creature. 
At last he succeeded in catching it in the act of larceny 
and he chopped off one of its paws, only to find on his 
return home that his wife had lost a hand. 


A Frenchwoman at Billancourt was cooking an ome- 
lette when a black cat strayed into the cottage and sat 
down near the hearth to watch the operation. At the 
critical moment the cat cried out, " The omelette is 
done on that side. Turn it." The old woman was in- 
dignant at this aspersion on her culinary knowledge and 
she flung the half-cooked omelette at the cat, striking the 
animal's face. The next morning she had the satisfaction 
of seeing a deep red burn on the cheek of an evil-minded 

A woman whose children were always ailing, lived in 
the village of Ceyreste near to Ciotat. As soon as one 
child recovered another fell ill, and their mother was in 
despair, because she could not account for their ailments. 

One day, one of her neighbours said, " Do you know, 
I feel sure your mother-in-law is injuring the health of 
your little ones. She may be a witch." 

The woman spoke to her husband about the matter, 
and they decided to watch over their children carefully 
to see whether their illness was due to evil influence. 

One night they were watching without appearing to 
do so, when suddenly a black cat approached the cradle 
of one of the children, moving with stealth and quite 
silently. The husband raised a stick he had picked up 
for the purpose and struck the animal violently, intending 
to kill it. But the blow was not carefully aimed and he 
only succeeded in crushing one of the evil animal's paws. 
With a bound it escaped him. 

For a day or two afterwards nothing was seen of the 
children's grandmother, who usually came on a visit 
every day to inquire after the health of her grand- 

Then the neighbour said, " She is hiding something 
from you. Go and see why she does not come." 

The husband followed her advice and went to see his 
mother, whom he found with her hand bound up, and 
in an extremely bad temper. He pretended not to see 
that she had been hurt, and he asked her in the most 


natural tone he could summon, why she had not been 
to visit them as usual. 

'' Whatever should I come to your house for ? " she 
asked angrily. " Look at the state of my fingers. If I 
had been struck by a hatchet instead of a stick, my fingers 
would have been cut off and I should have nothing left 
but a stump. "^ 

Mr. Algernon Blackwood has cleverly used this idea of 
the astral body assuming cat-shape, and a wound in- 
flicted on the animal reproducing itself on the physical 
counterpart, by means of the so-called phenomenon of 

In '' The Empty Sleeve," ^ the violinist Hyman " be- 
lieved that there was some fluid portion of a man's per- 
sonality which could be projected to a distance, and even 
semimaterialised there. The ' astral body,' he called it, 
or some such foolishness, claiming that it could appear in 
various forms, according to the character of its owner's 
desire, even in animal forms." 

Billy Gilmer described to his brother what he saw 
when the violinist was playing. " The music seemed to 
issue from himself rather than from the shining bit of 
wood under his chin, when — I noticed something coming 
over me that was " — he hesitated, searching for words — 
" that wasn't all due to the music." . . . 

" You mean Hyman looked queer ? " 

Billy nodded his head without turning. 

" Changed there before my very eyes " — he whispered 
it — " turned animal " 

" Animal ! " John felt his hair rising. 

" That's the only way I can put it. His face and hands 
and body turned otherwise than usual. I lost the sound 
of his feet. When the bow-hand or the fingers on the 
strings passed into the light, they were " — he uttered a 
soft, shuddering Httle laugh — " furry, oddly divided, the 

^ Berenger-Feraud, L. J. B., " Superstitions et Survivances," 1896, 
Vol. V, pp. 21-22. 

2 "The London Magazine," January, igiij^pp. 552-63. 


fingers massed together. And he paced stealthily. I 
thought every instant the fiddle would drop with a crash 
and he would spring at me across the room." 

Some weeks later John Gilmer is awakened by a noise 
in the flat, and seizing a Turkish sword from the wall 
where it hung he entered the sitting-room where he saw 
a moving figure. 

" Clutching his Turkish sword tightly he drew back 
with the utmost caution against the wall and watched, 
for the singular impression came to him that the move- 
ment was not that of a human being crouching, but 
rather of something that pertained to the animal world. 
He remembered, flash-like, the movements of reptiles, 
the stealth of the larger felines, the undulating glide of 
great snakes. For the moment, however, it did not 
move, and they faced one another. 

" The other side of the room was but dimly lighted, 
and the noise he made clicking up another electric lamp 
brought the thing flying forwards again — towards himself. 
At such a moment it seemed absurd to think of so small 
a detail, but he remembered his bare feet, and, genuinely 
frightened, he leaped upon a chair and swished with his 
sword through the air about him. From this better 
point of view, with the increased light to aid him, he 
then saw two things — first, that the glass case usually 
covering the Guarnerius violin had been shifted : and, 
secondly, that the moving object was slowly elongating 
itself into an upright position. Semi-erect and yet most 
oddly, too, like a creature on its hind legs, it was coming 
swiftly towards him. It was making for the door — and 

Confused, he struck out wildly, lost his balance and 
fell forward from the chair. 

" Then came the most carious thing of all, for as he 
dropped, the figure also dropped, stooped low down, 
crouched, dwindled amazingly in size, and rushed past 
him close to the ground like an animal on all fours. John 
Gilmer screamed, for he could no longer contain himself. 


Stumbling over the chair as he turned to follow, cutting 
and slashing wildly with his sword, he saw half-way down 
the darkened corridor beyond, the large, scuttling out- 
line of — a cat ! 

" The door into the outer landing was somehow ajar, 
and the next second the beast was out, but not before 
the steel had fallen with a dreadful crashing blow upon 
the front disappearing leg, almost severing it from the 

Months afterwards the Gilmers met Hyman wearing 
spectacles and a beard. William pointed out to his 
brother another difference. 

" But didn't you also notice " 

" What ? " 

" He had an empty sleeve." 

" An empty sleeve ? " 

" Yes," said WilHam. " He's lost an arm ! " 

A daring cat-story is of French origin and bears dis- 
tinctive national characteristics on the face of it. On the 
26th of March, 1782, a gentleman of wealth who was 
jealous of his wife's honour, decided he would consult 
Count Cagliostro, in order to find out whether his wife, 
who was young and beautiful, had always been faithful 
to him. He told the Count the reason of his visit and 
begged him to assist him in discovering the truth. Cag- 
liostro said that this was quite an easy matter, and that 
he would give him a small phial containing a certain 
liquid which he was to drink when he reached home and 
just before he went to bed. " If your wife has been 
unfaithful to you," said Cagliostro, " you will be trans- 
formed into a cat." 

The husband went home and told his wife how clever 
the Count was. She asked him the reason of his journey. 
At first he refused to tell her, but when she insisted he 
told her the exact means by which he was going to test 
her fidelity. She laughed at his credulity, but he swal- 


lowed the draught and they went to bed. The wife rose 
early to attend to her household duties, leaving her hus- 
band asleep. At ten o'clock, as he did not appear, she 
went up to wake him, and to her intense astonishment, 
she found a huge black cat in the bed in place of her 
husband. She screamed, called her dear husband's name, 
and bent over the cat to kiss it, but without avail. Her 
husband had vanished ! Then, in her despair, she knelt 
beside the bed and prayed for pardon, saying that she 
had committed a sin and that a handsome young soldier 
had cajoled her, by means of vows, of tears, and stories 
of heroic battles, to forget her marriage vows. 

Black cocks and hens — like the cat — appear to have 
affinity with ghosts and sorcery. Among the fauna of 
La Tranche Comte black hens are found, gifted with 
supernatural powers, which are so much like the ordinary 
ones that it is difficult to tell them apart. Yet they are 
magicians well versed in sorcery. In the courtyard they 
are served before their companions, and when they be- 
come broody and sit on the nest, a piece of money is 
slipped beneath them. If they are pleased, other coins 
are added, but it is very difficult to please them. At 
Mouthe in the Jura mountains, there are said to be 
witch-hens that frighten eagles.^ Cocks are also thought 
to have power over lions. Proches gives an example of a 
spirit which was wont to appear in the form of a Hon, 
but by setting of a cock before it, it was made to dis- 
appear, because there is a contrariety between a cock 
and a lion. 

If an unexpected fortune is left to a poor peasant the 
French say that " he has a black hen," and the black hen 
which brings treasure is given by the devil to those who 
have sold their soul to him. A black cock is regarded as 
lucky,2 and use is made of it in ceremonial magic. 

Oromasis, father of Zoroaster, possessed a gold-finding 
hen which was hatched in the following manner. " Take 

^ Beauquier, Ch., " Faune et Flore Populaires de la Franche Comte," 
1910, Vol. I, p. 24. 2 lli^^^ p. 228. 


aromatic woods, such as aloes, cedar, orange, citron 
laurel, iris-root, with rose leaves dried in the sun. Place 
them in a golden chafing-dish, pour balsamic oil over 
them : add the finest incense and clear gum. Next say : 
Jthas, Solinain, Erminatos, Pas aim : set a glass over the 
chafing dish: direct the rays of the sun thereon, and 
the wood will kindle, the glass will melt, a sweet odour 
will fill the place, and the compost will burn speedily to 
ashes. Place these ashes in a golden ^%g while still red- 
hot : lay the tgg upon a black cushion ; cover it with a 
bell-glass of faceted rock-crystal ; then lift up your eyes 
and stretch your arms towards heaven and cry : O 
Sanataper, Ismdi, Nontapilus, Ertivaler^ Canopistus, Ex- 
pose the glass to the most fierce rays of the sun till it 
seems enveloped in flame, the egg ceases to be visible and 
a slight vapour rises. Presently you will discern a black 
pullet just beginning to move, when, if you say : Binusas, 
Testipas, it will take wing and nestle in your bosom. "^ 

An alternative method provided by the Grimoire is to 
take an unspotted egg, and expose it to the meridian 
rays of the sun. Then select the blackest hen you can 
get, and shut it in a box lined with black. Place the box 
in a darkened room and let the hen sit till it hatches the 
chicken, which should be as black as the hen's outlook. 
The black pullet should have gold-finding proclivities. 
Another method altogether is to secure a virgin black 
hen, which must be seized without causing it to cackle. 
Repair to the highroad, walk till you come to a cross-way, 
and there, on the stroke of midnight, describe a circle 
with a cypress rod, place yourself in the middle, tear the 
bird in twain, and pronounce thrice the words Elotm, 
Essaim, frugativi et appellavi. Next turn to the east, 
kneel down, recite a prayer, and conclude it with 
the Grand Appellation, when the Unclean Spirit will 
appear to you in a scarlet surcoat, a yellow vest, and 
breeches of pale green. His head will resemble that of a 
dog, but his ears will be those of an ass, with two horns 
1 Waite, A. E., " The Book of Black Magic," 1898, p. 104. 


above them ; he will have the legs and hoofs of a calf. 
He will ask for your orders, which you will give as you 
please, and as he cannot do otherwise than obey you, 
you may become rich on the spot, and thus the happiest 
of men. Such at least is the judgment of the Grimoire.^ 

Samuel Bernard, the Jewish banker who died in 1789, 
left an enormous fortune. It was said that he possessed 
a favourite black cock as a mascot, which was thought by 
many to have supernatural powers and to be connected in 
the diabolical manner indicated with the amassing of his 
wealth. The bird died a day or two before his master. 

At Basle, in 1474, a cock was tried for having laid an 
egg. After a long examination the cock was condemned 
to death, not as a cock but as a sorcerer or devil in the 
form of a cock. The bird was burned with its egg at the 
stake ! In former times all animals were regarded as 
amenable to the laws of the country and the whole 
proceedings of the trial, sentence, and execution were 
conducted with the strictest formalities of justice. 
Ninety-two processes against animals were tried in the 
French courts between 11 20 and 1740, when the last 
trial and execution of a cow took place. 

At Lavegny, in 1457, a sow and her six young ones 
were tried for having murdered and partly eaten a child. 
The sow was found guilty and executed, but the pigs 
were acquitted on account of their youth and the bad 
example of their mother. 

Such instances might be multiplied in number, but 
they have no real place here, as the victims of justice 
were not regarded in the light of human animals, but as 
animals which had broken the standard of conduct laid 
down for the so-called superior race. 

Chanticleer is the name of the cock in the great beast 
epic of the Middle Ages, Reynard the Fox, and Chanti- 
cleer, as everyone knows, has been humanised and immor- 
talised in recent years by the famous French dramatist, 
Rostand. The cock, the hawk, and the eagle, among 

^ Ibid.f pp. 106-7. 


birds, appear to attract wizards or male sorcerers for 
transformation purposes, while the more graceful and 
docile feathered beings, such as the nightingale, the 
wren, and above all the swan, appeal more frequently to 
the witch or maiden as a suitable form in which to appear. 

Admirers of William Blake's work will remember the 
curious conception of a woman with a swan's head 
depicted in his " Jerusalem." 

After the classic swan-maidens and Valkyries, perhaps 
the owl-woman comes next in popularity, made famous 
no doubt by the transformation of Pamphile in " The 
Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass of Apuleius." 


A BEAUTIFUL girl of about twenty years of age lived in a 
Proven gal village. Her figure was good, she had an 
engaging carriage, fine hair, lovely eyes and teeth, and, 
in short, she was very attractive, but none of the young 
men of the village ever attempted to make love to her, 
and she had never had an offer of marriage. Whenever 
she met a young man who was new to the neighbourhood, 
he said, " Oh, what a pretty girl ! " But his friends 
whispered in his ear, " Yes, she's lovely but she's a witch," 
and the mere suspicion of such a thing was so unpleasant 
that the young man knew it was quite impossible to give 
the lady a second sympathetic thought. 

A few courageous young men, it is true, were anxious to 
hear further details about her sad story, and their friends 
gave them the following account as soon as they were out 
of earshot of any curious listener. 

The young girl's mother, it appeared, had become a 
witch in her early youth, because, finding herself at the 
bedside of an old neighbour who lay at death's door and 
who was a notorious witch, she had been imprudent 
enough to take hold of her hand. Her indiscretion had 
not at the time become public property, and she had no 
difficulty in getting a husband, but a very short time 
after the marriage had taken place, the man had fallen 
ill, and died soon afterwards in a mysterious decline. 

Under these circumstances there could be no doubt 
that the daughter was a witch as well as the mother, and 
it was equally certain that any bold gentleman who 



might venture to marry her would be condemned to an 
early death. 

Whether the young lady in question was pleased at the 
prospect of being laid on the shelf is very doubtful. 
Most girls of twenty have not an idea in the world beyond 
getting married, and she did not seem to be an exception 
to the rule. 

One day a nice-looking young man who had recently 
come to the district to take up a position of some im- 
portance, was much struck by the young lady's good 
looks. When a friend told him she was undoubtedly a 
witch he shrugged his shoulders in contemptuous in- 
credulity and continued to glance at her with interest 
and even tenderness in his gaze. 

He was specially favoured by the girl, who received 
his attentions with pleasure and returned his glances. 
They soon made one another's acquaintance and, before 
long, an engagement was arranged between them. 

The young man's family looked upon the forthcoming 
marriage with anything but good-will. But the young 
lover was obstinate, and as the girl and her mother did 
their best to keep him to his intentions, the arrange- 
ments were settled and the wedding-day fixed. 

The fiance was allowed to pay court to his lady-love 
every evening, and he made good use of this privilege. 
Autumn was approaching and the evenings were drawing 
in, and as the wedding was to be in November, there 
were many things to arrange and discuss every day, 
which made long visits a matter of course. 

Time and time again one of the young man's friends 
pointed out the danger into which he was running by 
marrying a witch, but all advice was useless. It had an 
effect in one way, however, as it made the young man 
anxious to know whether the accusation could possibly 
be true. After a long time, in which his friend's sugges- 
tions had slowly made an impression, the young man 
decided to take steps to make sure what sort of a 
woman he was about to marry. 


It is a well-known fact that the witches' Sabbath 
begins exactly at midnight, and once or twice when it 
grew very late whilst he was visiting his fiancee, her 
mother had suggested it was time he took his leave as it 
was close on midnight. This occurrence had made him 
slightly suspicious, and he decided to resort to a ruse. 

One evening, having arrived at the usual hour, he 
complained of fatigue and pretended to fall asleep. 
Being Friday, the meeting of the witches was a specially 
solemn one, and not a single witch could afford to be 
absent. As time wore on, mother and daughter tried to 
wake the young man, but this was impossible, as he was 
sleeping too heavily, even snoring in a marked fashion, 
although all the time he was prepared to glance out of 
one eye if anything extraordinary went on in the room., 

Presently, finding all their efforts in vain, the two women 
began talking in whispers, and were seemingly in great 
trouble. Then, as time pressed on, they took a mighty 
resolution. They put out the light, so that the room 
was in utter darkness save for the glowing embers on the 
hearth, then they took from a hidden press a jar of oint- 
ment which they placed on the table. They quickly 
divested themselves of their clothes and, dipping their 
fingers into the jar, rubbed themselves all over very 
carefully with the ointment. Every time they rubbed a 
limb they cried out, " Supra fueillo — above the foliage ! " 

As soon as they had finished this ritual they suddenly 
became owls, flew up the chimney, uttering the lugubrious 
hoot of the night-bird, and leaving behind them no signs 
of their presence except their discarded clothes on a chair 
in the room which had been the stage of this strange 

As soon as he was left alone, the young man opened 
his eyes in a state of indescribable stupefaction. He rose, 
lit the lamp, looked carefully all round the room, touching 
many of the things to make sure that he was really awake 
and that he had not been the subject of an hallucina- 
tion. When he came to the clothes, which still felt 


warm from their owners' bodies, and saw on the table 
the jar of black ointment which smelt as though it had 
been made of burnt animal fat, he knew he was not 

Just then a clock close by struck the hour of twelve, 
and the young man, shaking and quaking with the 
strangeness of what had taken place, looked round in 
fear lest some awful apparition should greet his eyes. 
But nothing happened, for all the witches were at the 
Sabbath by that time. 

Then a mad idea entered his head ! Why should not 
he, too, transform himself into an owl and go to join 
his future wife and her mother, who had effected the 
transformation without apparently the slightest difficulty. 
The idea had no sooner struck him than he prepared to 
carry it out. In the twinkling of an eye he slipped off 
his clothes, dipped his fingers into the magic jar and 
rubbed himself exactly as the women had done. Un- 
fortunately, however, he could not remember the exact 
phrase they had used, and instead of crying " Supra 
fueillo," he said, " Souto fueillo — under the foliage," 
with every rub. 

Scarcely had he completed his exercises, and said 
" Souto fueillo " for the last time, than he was immedi- 
ately changed into an owl and flew towards the chimney. 

Scarcely had he reached the grate, however, when he 
knocked against the smouldering green faggots and burnt 

He attributed this misadventure to his want of address, 
not being accustomed to the shape and movements of a 
bird, and he assured himself that as soon as he was free 
of the house he would manage better. But when he 
reached the open country he began to suffer tortures. 
Where the fields were bare he found himself easily able 
to fly, just like any ordinary owl, but as soon as he came 
to the smallest hedge or thicket, he was obliged to pass 
through it instead of clearing it from above, and every 
branch, twig or thorn hit and stung him like a whip. 


He wished to stop flying, for every moment his suffer- 
ing grew more unendurable, but it was impossible to 
stop, for he was induced by some superior power to go 
straight ahead, and however much he tried, he could not 
avoid the shrubs and trees which lay in his path. The 
words " souto fueillo — under the foliage " which he had 
used were literally true, in the most cruel sense. He was 
bruised and torn all over, and felt as though he were at 
the point of death and that his last moment had come, 
when suddenly he heard a cock crow and the first ray of 
light appeared in the sky, heralding the dawn. The 
witches' Sabbath ended, he fell heavily to earth, find- 
ing himself lying naked on the wet soil. Bruised and 
bleeding, and smarting from a hundred scratches, his 
condition was pitiable, but he took heart when he realised 
that his experiment, so foolishly attempted, had not 
turned out even worse. He stood up, and limping and 
sore, hastened to his own house, slinking into bed, where 
he developed a serious fever which kept him there for 
many weeks. No one ever guessed the real cause of his 
illness, but as soon as he had recovered his ordinary state 
of health he went to live in another town and never even 
called on his ex-fiancee and her mother to ask them for 
the clothes which he had left on a chair in their sitting- 

A legend about another owl-woman is alluded to by 
Shakespeare in Hamlet, Act IV, Sc. V, in OpheHa's 
speech, " They say the owl was a baker's daughter." 
The common version of this story comes from Gloucester- 
shire, and is told as follows : " Our Saviour went into a 
baker's shop where they were baking and asked for some 
bread to eat. The mistress of the shop immediately 
put a piece of dough into the oven to bake for him, but 
was reprimanded by her daughter who, insisting that 
the piece of dough was too large, reduced it considerably 
in size. The dough, however, immediately afterwards 
began to swell, and presently became an enormous size. 
Whereupon the baker's daughter cried out, ' Wheugh ! 


wheugh ! wheugh ! ' which owl-Hke noise, it is said, 
probably induced our Saviour, for her wickedness, to 
transform her into that bird." 

An old ode gives a more aristocratic descent to the 
owl than the family of a tradesman. 

" Once I was a monarch's daughter, 
And sat on a lady's knee : 
But am now a mighty rover, 
Banished to the ivy tree. 

" Crying hoo hoo, hoo hoo, hoo hoc, * 

Hoo ! hoo ! hoo ! my feet are cold ! 
Pity me, for here you see me. 
Persecuted, poor and old ! " 

In the north country the owl was also said to be of 
royal descent, perhaps of birth even as high as the child 
of a Pharaoh. 

" I was once a king's daughter and sat upon my father's knee, 
But now I am a poor hoolet, and hide in a hollow tree." 

Another common tradition represents the owl as an 
old weaver spinning with silver threads, and the barn 
owl is said to be a transformation of one of the servants 
of the ten kings of the infernal regions.^ 

A similar story about the Saviour and the dough is told 
of the woodpecker. When Christ and St. Peter were 
wandering about the earth, they came to a house where 
an old wife sat baking. Her name was Gertrude and she 
wore a red mutch on her head. The Saviour, being 
hungry, pleaded that she should give Him a bannock, 
and to this she agreed. She took a very small piece of 
dough and rolled it out, but as she was rolling it it grew 
bigger and finally covered the whole griddle. 

Then she said it was too large and she could not give 
away that bannock, and she took up a still smaller piece 
of dough and began again. But this piece grew as large 
as the other, and she refused to let her visitors have it. 
The same thing occurred a third time, and then Gertrude 

^ See Swainson, Ch., " Folklore of British Birds," 1886, pp. 123-7. 


said, " I can't give you anything. You will have to go 
without, for all these bannocks are too large." 

Then Christ was angry and said, " Since you grudge me 
a morsel of food you shall turn into a bird and seek your 
livelihood between bark and bole, and only drink when it 

As He spoke these words, Gertrude turned into a 
large black woodpecker and flew up from the kneading 
trough and out through the chimney. Her body is black 
but she still wears the red mutch and she taps at the trees 
for her food.^ 

The Bohemians believe the cuckoo to be a transformed 
peasant woman who hid herself when she saw the Saviour 
approaching because she feared she would have to give 
Him a loaf. After He had gone by she looked out of the 
window and cried " Cuckoo ! " and thereupon she was 
changed into a bird. 

Another tradition says that the cuckoo is a trans- 
formed maiden, who is calling for her lost brother, or 
else that she proclaims to the world by her cry that her 
brother has been found again. A Serbian song says that 
a dead man was detained in misery on earth because his 
sister persisted in shedding tears over his grave. Becom- 
ing angry at her unreasonable sorrow, he cursed her and 
she was changed into a cuckoo and had enough to do 
grieving over her own condition without troubling further 
about his. 

In an Albanian version of this legend a sister had two 
brothers, and accidentally killed one of them by getting 
up from her needlework and stabbing him in the heart 
with her scissors. She and her surviving brother grieved 
so deeply that they turned into birds, and all day long 
she cried " Ku-ku, ku-ku. Where are you ? " to the 
brother she had slain. 

The Westphalian peasants say that the nightingale is a 
shepherdess who treated a shepherd, who loved her, 
harshly, for she kept on promising to marry him but was 

1 Dasent, G. W., " Popular Tales from the Norse," 1903, pp. 213-4. 


never prepared to fulfil her vow. At last the shepherd 
could not endure her dilly-dallying any longer and he 
prayed that she might never sleep again until the day of 
judgment. Since then her voice is always heard at night- 
time, singing, '' Is tit, is tit, to wit, to wit — Trizy, Trizy, 
to bucht, to bucht " — which is the cry of the shepherdess 
to her dog Trizy.^ 

" In former times," says Mr. Train, in his " Account of 
the Isle of Man,"^ '' a fairy of uncommon beauty exerted 
such undue influence over the male population, that by 
her sweet voice she induced numbers to follow her foot- 
steps till by degrees she led them into the sea, where they 
perished. This barbarous exercise of power had con- 
tinued for a long time, till it was apprehended that the 
island would be exhausted of its defenders : when a 
knight-errant sprang up who discovered some means of 
countervailing the charms used by this siren, and even 
laid a plot for her destruction, which she escaped at the 
moment of extreme hazard by taking the form of a 
wren. But, though she evaded instant annihilation, a 
spell was cast upon her by which she was condemned to 
animate the same form every succeeding New Year's 
day, until she should perish by a human hand." Every 
anniversary therefore man and boy hunt the island from 
dawn till twilight for the small brown bird whose 
feathers are looked upon as a charm against shipwreck. 

In German folk-lore the magpie is a bird of the in- 
fernal regions, now changing herself into a witch, or 
sometimes turning herself into the steed or broomstick 
on which the witch rides to the Sabbath. In Sweden 
tradition says that sorcerers on Walpurgis night ride to 
Blocula and there turn into magpies. A lady at Carlstadt 
in that country was haunted by witch-birds in a very 
unpleasant manner. Having insulted a Finn woman 
who had begged food of her she told her to take a magpie 
that was hanging in a cage and eat it if she was hungry. 

^ Quoted from other sources by Swainson, Ch., " The Folk-lore of 
British Birds," 1886, pp. 20-1. ^ jg^^^ Vol. II, pp. 124-7. 


The Finn cast an " evil eye " on the lady for this insult, 
but took the bird away with her. Some time after the 
Swedish lady noticed that whenever she went out a 
magpie came hopping in front of her. This happened 
for some days running, and then the magpie was joined 
by a companion bird, and presently by a number. The 
lady began to be frightened, but the more she tried to get 
rid of these strange companions the more numerous 
they became. They perched on her shoulders, tugged at 
her dress, and pecked at her ankles. In despair she shut 
herself up indoors, but they remained outside, and as 
soon as the door was open in they hopped. At last she 
went to bed and had the shutters closed, and the magpies 
kept on tapping outside till she died. 

There is a beautiful Eskimo legend of a bird-bride : — 

" Years agone, on the flat white strand, 
I won my sweet sea-girl, 
Wrapped in my coat of the snow-white fur, 
I watched the wild-birds settle and stir, 
The grey gulls gather and whirl. 

" One of the greatest of all the flock, 
Perched on an ice-floe bare. 
Called and cried as her heart were broke. 
And straight they were changed that fleet bird-folk;> 
To women young and fair."^ 

The Eskimo captures the fairest and carries her to his 
snow house, where she becomes his wife and bears him 
three children, and he promises that whatever bird or 
beast he shall slay for food he will never capture another 
grey gull. But as time goes on he forgets his vow and 
once when food is scarce and he can get no game, he shoots 
four sea-gulls with his bow and arrow. Then his wife 
tells him her hour has come, and, calling her children to 
fetch the feather plumes, she dons them and flies away 
with her little ones and the husband is left lamenting. 

1 Tomson, Graham R., " The Bird Bride," 1889, p. i. 


A more definite variant of the bird-maiden legend is 
found in "The Arabian Nights." Janshah enters a paviHon 
and mounting the throne falls asleep. But presently 
awaking he walks forth and sees flying in mid-sky, three 
birds, in dove-form but as large as eagles. They alight 
on the brink of the basin of the fountain. There they 
become maidens, plunge into the basin and play and 
swim in the water. Janshah, struck by their beauty, 
rises and follows them when they come to land, saying, 
^' Who are ye, O illustrious princesses, and whence come 
ye ? " The youngest maiden replies, " We are from the 
invisible world of Almighty Allah, and we come hither 
to divert ourselves." 

Still marvelling at her beauty, Janshah said to the 
youngest, " Have ruth on me and deign kindness to me 
and take pity on my case and all that hath befallen me 
in my life." But she will not hearken to his pleadings, 
and though he recites love poems to them all they only 
laugh and sing and make merry. They stay with him 
feasting till morning and then, resuming dove-shape, fly 
off and are seen no more. Janshah, deprived of their 
company, well-nigh loses his reason and falls into a 

Eventually he wins the princess by seizing her feather 
robe and refusing to return it in spite of the fact that the 
fair lady, Shamsah by name, beseeches him with all her 
wiles to do so. They decide to go back to the princesses' 
motherland to be married, and Janshah returns the feather 
suit, which she dons, telling him to mount her back and 
shut his eyes and ears, so that he " may not hear the roar 
of the revolving sphere," and, she adds, " keep fast hold 
of my feathers lest thou fall off." 

They return to his home happily wedded and Janshah 
places the feather-vest of the princess in a white marble 
chest, which is sealed with melted lead and buried under 
the palace walls. But Shamsah when she enters the new 
palace smells the scent of her flying feather-gear, and 
when her husband is asleep she gets out the garment and 


flies away. Then Janshah has to search for the Castle 
of Jewels, where he meets his fair bride once more.^ 

A very similar story is told by Charles Swynnerton in 
" Romantic Tales from the Panjab, with Indian Nights' 
Entertainment," 2 about Prince Bairam and his fairy 
bride. The Prince, sitting down in a beautiful garden, 
watches four milk-white doves who settle in the shape 
of four fairies by the edge of a tank of clear crystal water. 
There they bathe and when they come out to dress three 
of them resume their dove-shape, but the fourth fairy, 
whose name is Ghulab Bano, cannot find her clothes and 
bids farewell to her sisters, saying, " It is my kismet. 
Some different destiny awaits me here and we shall 
never meet again." 

Then she falls in love with the Prince, who has pur- 
posely hidden her dove-skin, and marries him. After a 
time she asks her husband for leave to visit her father 
and mother, promising to return. He gives her the fairy 
clothes and she disappears as a milk-white dove. But 
her parents are angry with her for marrying a mortal and 
imprison her in a subterranean city, so that she cannot keep 
her promise. The Prince goes in search of her and at last 
finds his bride, but as women cannot keep a secret, she tells 
her friends of his presence, and her father sends giants to 
kill him, and only after many further adventures are the 
Prince and the fairy-Princess once more happily united. 

In a Basuto legend a girl is devoured by wer-animals 
in whose care, as men, she has been sent to her betrothed. 
Her heart is transformed into a dove and joins a flock of 
these birds. They visit the hut of the bridegroom's 
sister, who suspects that the beautiful bird may be the 
lost maiden. Then the bridegroom seizes hold of the 
dove, the wings come off and the girl herself steps forth 
as beautiful and innocent as ever. 

Hans Andersen's " The Wild Swans " differs in an 
important particular from the other stories of this class, 

1 " Arabian Nights," Lady Burton's edition, Vol. Ill, 1887, pp. 417-50. 

2 1908, pp. 464-9. 


as it deals with Swan-princes. Princess Elsie's eleven 
brothers are transformed into swans by their wicked 
stepmother, who says, " Fly away in the form of great 
speechless birds." But she could not make their trans- 
formation so disagreeable as she wished, and the princes 
were changed into eleven white swans. 

Elsie releases them by plucking stinging-nettles which 
she has to weave into eleven shirts with long sleeves. 
She does not finish in time, and one sleeve being wanting 
in the youngest boy's shirt, he has one arm, and a wing 
instead of the other. ^ 

The robin, oddly enough among birds, is also a trans- 
formed man. The legend is told amongst the Chippeway 
Indians that there was once a hunter so ambitious that 
his only son should signalise himself by endurance when 
he came to the time of life to undergo the fast for the 
purpose of choosing his guardian spirit, that after the 
lad had fasted for eight days, his father still pressed him 
to persevere. But the next day, when the father entered 
the hut, his son had paid the penalty of violated nature, 
and in the form of a robin had just flown down to the 
top of a lodge. There before he flew away to the woods, 
he entreated his father not to mourn the transformation. 
" I shall be happier," he said, " in my present state than 
I could have been as a man. I shall always be the friend 
of men and keep near their dwellings ; I could not 
gratify your pride as a warrior, but I will cheer you 
with my songs." ^ 

In Bavaria the hoopoe is said to play the part of atten- 
dant to the cuckoo. It is believed that the plantain was 
once a maiden, who, watching by the wayside for her 
lover, who was long in coming, was changed into a plant, 
and once in seven years she becomes a bird, either the 
cuckoo or the hoopoe,' or, as it is called in Devonshire, 
the " dinnick," the cuckoo's servant. 

^ Andersen, H. C, " Danish Fairy Legends," 1861, pp. 1-16. 
^ See Jones' " Credulities Past and Present." 
^ " Quarterly Review," July, 1863, p. 245. 


One of the best-known classical stories of bird-women 
is, of course, the tragedy of Progne and Philomela, 
daughters of Pandion, King of Athens. Progne marries 
Tereus, King of Thrace, but Tereus, blinded by Philo- 
mena's beauty, betrays his sister-in-law and cuts out her 
tongue lest she should tell of his villainy. Nevertheless 
she manages to send a message to her sister, who revenges 
herself and Philomena on her husband Tereus by kilhng 
his son Itys and dishing up his body as food at a meal 
which she sets before his father. Tereus, having eaten 
of the flesh of his beloved son, discovers the trick played 
upon him and pursues his wife and her sister with the 
intention of punishing them. As they flee Philomela is 
transformed into a nightingale, while Progne becomes a 
swallow, upon whose breast the red stains of her murdered 
son appear. Tereus is changed into a crested bird, either 
a hoopoe or a lapwing. 

" The Thracian king, lamenting sore, 
Turned to a lapwing, doeth them upbrayde." 

A pretty story of a woman-kingfisher is also to be 
found among the classics. Ceyx, King of Trachyn, sets 
out for Claros, to succour his brother, against the advice 
of his wife, Halcyone. A storm overtakes the ship on 
which he is travelling and he is drowned. Halcyone 
hastens to the seashore to find him, as she feels she cannot 
live without his presence, and as she stands looking out to 
sea the body of the drowned Ceyx floats towards her. 
She leaps into the water to seize his corpse and at that 
moment is transformed into a kingfisher, and with her 
bill and wings caresses the dead face and limbs of her 
beloved husband. Then the gods, in compassion, trans- 
form Ceyx also into a kingfisher, so that as birds their 
love may endure for ever.^ 

1 Gibson, Frank, " Superstitions about Animals," 1904, pp. 140-2. 


Certain animals are associated with certain families, and 
in many such instances the animal makes its appearance 
as a death- warning. Sometimes the animal in question, 
which is in the nature of a totem of the clan, is the 
family crest and has an occult connection with its 
traditions and history. 

The Ferrers, whose country seat is at Chartley Park, 
near Litchfield, have a peculiar breed of cattle on their 
estates. The colour of the cattle is white with black 
muzzles. The whole of the inside of the ear, and one- 
third of the outside from the tip downwards is red, and 
the horns are white, with black tips, very fine and bent 

In the year in which the Battle of Burton Bridge was 
fought and lost, a black calf was born into this stock 
and the downfall of the Ferrers family occurred about 
this time, giving rise to a tradition which has never been 
falsified, that the birth of a dark or parti-coloured calf 
from the Chartley Park breed is an omen of death within 
the year to a member of the Ferrers family. 

The " Staffordshire Chronicle," of July, 1835, ^^Y^, 
" It is a noticeable coincidence that a calf of this descrip- 
tion was born whenever a death happened in the family. 
The decease of the seventh Earl Ferrers and of his 
countess, and of his son. Viscount Tamworth, and of 
his daughter, Mrs. William Jolliffe, as well as the deaths 
of the son and heir of the eighth earl and of his daughter, 
Lady Francis Shirley, were each preceded by the ominous 



birth of the fatal-hued calf. In the spring of 1835 a 
black calf appeared at Chartley, and before long the 
beautiful countess, second wife of the eighth earl, lay on 
her death-bed. 

Birds of various kinds frequently make their appear- 
ance in families as harbingers of death. When the 
Oxenhams of Devonshire were visited by the apparition 
of a white bird they knew that one of the family was 
doomed. The well-known story is told by James Oxen- 
ham in a tract entitled " A True relation of an Appari- 
tion in the likenesse of a Bird with a white breast that 
appeared hovering over the death-beds of some of the 
children of Mr. James Oxenham, of Sale Monachorum, 
Devon, Gent." 

One of the first members of the family to see the 
apparition was the famous John Oxenham, a young man 
of twenty-two, who was taken ill in the vigour of his 
youth, a great strapping fellow six foot and a half in 
height, well built, of comely countenance and of great 
intellectual gifts. He died on the fifth day of September, 
1635, and two days before his death the bird with the 
white breast hovered over his bed. Charles Kingsley 
made use of this incident in " Westward Ho ! " John 
Oxenham, in the midst of drinking a toast, suddenly 
drops his glass on the table and staring in terror at some 
object which he seems to see fluttering round the room, 
he cries out " There ! Do you see it ? The bird ! The 
bird with the white breast ! " 

No sooner was John Oxenham in his grave than the 
apparition showed itself to Thomasine, wife of James 
Oxenham, who died on the seventh of September, 1635. 
She was quite a young woman and, according to the 
witnesses, Elizabeth Frost and Joan Tooker, the strange 
phantom was seen clearly fluttering above her sick-bed. 
The next member of the Oxenhams to whom the warning 
appeared was Thomasine's little sister, Rebecca, a child of 
eight, who breathed her last on September the ninth, 
following. And no sooner had the Httle girl been laid in 


her grave than Thomasine, infant of the above-mentioned 
Thomasine and James Oxenham, was taken sick and died 
on the isth of September, 1635, the bird appearing 
also in this case. 

It is impossible not to wonder what disease it was that 
carried off so many members of the Oxenham family 
within a few days of one another, and whether the bird 
was fluttering through the rooms the whole of the time, 
or whether it disappeared between the various deaths. 
Certain it is that it was not seen hovering over the sick- 
beds of other members of the family who recovered 
health. An earlier visitation had occurred in 161 8, when 
the grandmother of the said John, a certain Grace Oxen- 
ham, had yielded up her soul into the hands of her Maker. 
Many later appearances of the famous bird are on record. 
A Mr. Oxenham who lived in Sidmouth for many years 
and who died between 18 10 and 1821, was attended by 
an old gardener and his wife, who gave evidence that they 
had seen a white bird fly in at the door, dart across the 
bed in which their master lay dying, and disappear in 
one of the drawers of the bureau, but when they opened all 
the drawers to find the apparition, they could discover 
no signs of it. 

In 1873 the Rev. Henry Oxenham gave the following 
version of the family story, which may be found in 
Frederick George Lee's " Glimpses of the Super- 

" Shortly before the death of my late uncle, G. N. 
Oxenham, Esq., of 17 Earl's Terrace, Kensington, who 
was then head of the family, this occurred : His only 
surviving daughter, now Mrs. Thomas Peter, but then 
unmarried and living at home, and a friend of my aunt's, 
Miss Roberts, who happened to be staying in the house, 
but was no relation, and had never heard of the family 
tradition, were sitting in the dining-room immediately 
beneath his bedroom about a week before his death, 

^ Quoted in Middleton, J. A., " Another Grey Ghost Book," 1914, 
p. 249. 


which took place on December 15, 1873, when their 
attention was aroused by a shouting outside the window. 

" On looking out they observed a white bird — which 
might have been a pigeon, but, if so, was an unusually- 
large one — perched on the thorn tree outside the windows 
and it remained there for several minutes, in spite of 
some workmen on the opposite side of the road throwing 
their hats at it, in the vain effort to drive it away. 

" Miss Roberts mentioned this to my aunt at the time, 
though not, of course, attaching any special significance 
to it, and my aunt (since deceased) repeated it to me 
soon after my uncle's death. Neither did my cousin, 
though aware of the family tradition, think of it at the 
time. . . . My cousin also mentioned another circum- 
stance, which either I did not hear of or had forgotten, 
viz. that my late aunt spoke at the time of frequently 
hearing a sound like the fluttering of a bird's wings in my 
uncle's bedroom, and said that the nurse testified to 
hearing it also." 

A more tragic incident connected with the same legend 
was that when Lady Margaret Oxenham was about to be 
married a white bird appeared and fluttered about her 
head, and that she was stabbed at the altar by a rejected 

In another family a white crow was seen as a death- 
warning. In the late half of the eighteenth century the 
son of a rich landowner in North Wales was said to 
exercise an evil influence over his elder brother, who was 
heir to the estate. When the landowner died the eldest 
son disappeared mysteriously, and the second son took 
his place as heir. Wherever the new squire went he was 
accompanied by a white crow with black wings, and all 
the neighbours recognised the bird as his constant 

A few years passed and the squire found it necessary 
to make a journey to London on a matter of business, 
but thinking that the crow would cause an odd sensation 
if it followed him about the Metropolis, he decided, or 


let himself be persuaded, that it was better to leave the 
bird behind. On his way home from town, he stayed for 
a night or two at the house of a friend in Shrewsbury. 
During dinner the door of the dining-room was blown 
open suddenly, as though by an unexpected gust of wind, 
and the white crow flew into the room and perched on 
the squire's shoulder, as though well-contented to be 
once more in the presence of its master. 

To satisfy the curiosity of the guests, the squire ex- 
plained that the bird was his most faithful friend. When 
the diners left the table and went into the drawing-room 
a pet dog chased the bird, which had left its perch on 
the squire's shoulder and had flown on ahead. One of 
the visitors attempted to strike the dog, hoping to make 
it cease to persecute the bird, and by accident he hit the 
bird instead. Croaking piteously, the white crow wheeled 
about twice and fluttered to the ground dying. The 
squire who had lingered behind the others came forward 
at the noise of the fray and, seeing the dead crow, 
cried : 

" Alas ! You have killed one who was to me like a 

Then he turned to his host and took a hurried farewell, 
for, he added, " I have but three weeks more to live." 

At this strange speech the host and his guests con- 
cluded that the squire was over-superstitious and they 
pooh-poohed his fears, which, however, proved only too 
correct. He died three weeks later, as he had himself 
prophesied, and then it was reported that the elder 
brother, on his disappearance, had taken the shape of a 
crow and that whoever owned the bird knew that he 
would only survive it by three weeks. A third brother 
inherited the estate, and to this day when a death is ex- 
pected in the family, a white crow with black wings is 
seen hovering near the house. ^ 

A bird is connected with a death-warning in the 

^ Trevelyan, M., " Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales," 1909, pp. 


Lyttleton family, whose country seat is Hagley in Wor- 
cestershire. The first earl was a distinguished poet and 
historian, but his son, Thomas, the second earl,* was 
known as " the wicked Lord Lyttleton," a title he had 
won by his extravagances and profligacy. He died on 
November 27th, 1779, at his town house in Hill Street, 
having been foretold of his death three days previously. 

In the middle of the night of the 24th of November 
he was awakened by the fluttering of a bird about the 
curtains in his bedroom, and looking up, he saw the vision 
of a lovely woman dressed in white, upon whose wrist a 
small bird was perched like a falcon. As he lay watching 
the apparition, the woman spoke, warning him to pre- 
pare for death within three days. 

Although he treated the matter Hghtly, and his friends 
seconded him in combating his superstitious fears. Lord 
Lyttleton died at the exact hour named by his ghostly 
visitor and the casement at which the bird was seen by 
the doomed man has since been frequently pointed out 
to people interested in the tradition. 

Closeburn Castle, the seat of the Kirkpatricks in Dum- 
fries-shire, was surrounded by a beautiful lake, and when- 
ever any member of the family was about to die a swan 
appeared on the waters and remained there until the 
death had taken place, then disappearing as mysteriously 
as it came. 

The story of this ghostly swan is a sad one. In former 
times a pair of swans made the lake their favourite resort 
in the summer season. Year after year the pair paid an 
annual visit to Closeburn to the delight of the family, 
for they were thought to bring good fortune in their 
train, and whatever misfortune or sorrow had been im- 
pending vanished like magic at their appearance. 

One Lady Kirkpatrick had been sick unto death when 
the first information of the presence of the swans brought 
her speedily back to health. Another year the heir of the 
house, a mere babe, lay almost at his last gasp when the 
broken-hearted mother, gazing from the castle window 


one dark night, saw the two swans descend as though from 
the celestial world, and the next moment they were seen 
sailing majestically upon the lake. Full of joy at this 
good omen, she turned to her sick child and saw with 
thanksgiving and praise the first signs of returning health, 
a recovery which proved to be speedy. And so many 
stories were told of kindly influence exerted by the 
original birds and their successors, that for one hundred 
and fifty years the tradition held good. But after the 
elapse of that period a change occurred, which unfor- 
tunately reversed the omen. 

At that time Closeburn Castle was in the possession 
of a boy of thirteen of the name of Robert. He was 
romantic by nature, but also mischievous, and it happened 
that one day he was permitted to go to the theatre in 
Edinburgh to see a performance of " The Merchant of 
Venice." The lines which Portia says of Bassanio, that 
he would ,, , , . ... , 

' Make a swan-like end 
Fading in music," 

struck his imagination very forcibly and afterwards he 
could not rest because he was so anxious to know whether 
the song of a dying swan was a fact and not merely a 

Moved by this absorbing impulse, he went a short 
time later into the Park at Closeburn with the intention 
of shooting sparrows with his cross-bow, and at that 
moment, unluckily, the prophetic swans came sailing 
upon the lake in his direction. 

Without a thought as to what might be the result of 
his action, Robert aimed his bow at one of the swans, and 
the arrow, winging its way over the lake, hit its mark 
so surely that the swan perished on the spot. Its com- 
panion gave a shrill and lamentable scream and vanished 

Robert, filled with remorse at what he had done, 
buried the body of his victim, which had drifted to the 
shores of the lake, and told nobody what had taken place. 


But for many years, much to the surprise of the family, no 
swans came to Closeburn. 

Much later, when the matter had been almost forgotten, 
a single swan returned, but, unlike the earlier visitants, it 
was shy to wildness, and upon its breast was seen a blood- 
red stain. 

People shook their heads and said this phantom swan 
boded the family no good, and their prognostications 
came true, for though the swan with the bleeding breast 
came more rarely than the others had done, every time 
it appeared it heralded misfortune. First the sudden 
death of the Lord of Closeburn occurred at home and 
then one of his relatives was lost in a shipwreck. And 
again at the third nuptials of Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 
the first baronet of that name, his son and heir Roger, 
who was in good health at the time, caught sight of the 
swan, and in full conviction that the warning was meant 
to tell of impending evil, he went home duly despondent. 
His father rallied him on his mood, which he said pro- 
ceeded from a jealous dislike of his new stepmother. 
But Roger answered, "Perhaps before long, you too 
may be sorrowing," and that very night he gave up the 

Since then, tradition says, that the mystic wounded 
swan has never been seen at Closeburn, and the tragic 
revenge has been completely fulfilled. 

According to the account of Sir Walter Scott, super- 
natural appearances announce death to the ancient High- 
land family of the MacLeans of Lochbuy. The spirit 
of an ancestor who was slain in battle is heard to gallop 
along a stony bank and then to ride thrice around the 
family residence ringing his fairy bridle and thus intim- 
ating the approaching calamity. The reference to this 
legend occurs in " The Lady of the Lake." 

Sounds, too, had come in midnight blast, 
Of charging steeds, careering fast 
Along Benharrow's shingly side. 
Where mortal horseman ne'er might ride. 


A fox is an unusual animal to be responsible for a death- 
warning, except perhaps in Japan, where so many super- 
stitions ding round this creature, but the Irish family of 
Gormanston is haunted by a small congregation of foxes 
whenever the head of the house is about to die. 

Before the death of the twelfth viscount, in i860, 
foxes were seen round about and even in the house for 
some days. A few hours before his death, " three foxes 
were playing about and making a noise close to the house, 
and just in front of the cloisters, which are yew-trees 
planted and trailed in that shape." They wandered 
about the grounds in pairs and sat under the viscount's 
window, barking and howling all night. Next morning 
they were crouching in the grass in the front of the 
house. Although they had access to the poultry yard, 
it was certainly strange that they never touched any of 
the birds. As soon as the funeral was over the animals 
disappeared suddenly. 

When the succeeding viscount died, in 1876, the foxes 
were seen again, appearing constantly under the bedroom 
window, especially when the sick viscount was supposed 
to have taken a turn for the better, which, however, 
proved to be a false hope, for he passed away soon after- 

On the occasion of the death of the fourteenth Vis- 
count Gormanston the coachman and gardener saw two 
foxes near the chapel and five or six more round the 
front of the house, and several were barking in the 
cloisters. Lord Gormanston's son, the Hon. Mr. Preston, 
watched beside his father's body which lay in the chapel, 
and on one occasion, about three in the morning, he 
'' became conscious of a slight noise, which seemed to be 
that of a number of people walking stealthily around the 
chapel on the gravel walk. He went to the side door, 
listened, and heard outside a continuous and insistent 
snuffling or sniffing noise, accompanied by whimperings 
and scratchings at the door. On opening it, he saw a 
full-grown fox sitting on the path within four feet of 


him. Just in the shadow was another, while he could 
hear several more moving close by in the darkness. He 
then went to the end door, opposite the altar, and on 
opening it found two more foxes, one so close that he 
could have touched it with his foot. On shutting the 
door the noises continued till 5 a.m., when they suddenly 

When a death is about to take place in the Baronet's 
family at Clifton Hall, in Nottinghamshire, a sturgeon 
is said to force its way up the river Trent, which runs at 
the foot of the beautifully wooded slope on which the 
Hall stands, and whenever white owls are seen perched 
on the family mansion of the Arundels of Wardour it is 
held to be an indication that a member of the family is 
near to death. 

In one family a little white dog appears to give warning 
that a death is about to occur. The story is taken from 
J. A. Middleton's " Grey Ghost Book."2 A relative of 
General French was sitting in the garden talking with a 
friend when the latter saw a little white dog run under 
her companion's chair. As it did not reappear she became 
curious and requested him to see what had become of it. 
The man rose and removed his chair, but the dog was 
not there, having suddenly and mysteriously vanished. 
Then he related that in his family a little white dog ap- 
peared before a death, and that this was a warning to him. 

Some time after they met again and she learnt that his 
uncle had died the same night, and that she had seen the 
animal, and when she remarked that it was strange that 
it should have been visible to her and not to him, he said 
that on many other occasions the phantom had appeared 
to someone outside the family, though always near to a 
member of it to whom it was visible. 

A black dog appears as a death warning to some families, 
as related by Catherine Crowe in " The Night Side of 

^ " True Irish Ghost Stories." - 1914, pp. 194-5. 

3 1852, pp. 378-9. 


A young lady of well-known family was sitting at work, 
well and cheerful, when she saw to her great surprise a 
large black dog close to her. As both door and window 
were closed she could not understand how he had got 
in, but when she started up to put him out she could 
no longer see him. Quite puzzled and thinking it must 
be some strange illusion, she sat down again, and went 
on with her work, when presently he was there again. 
Much alarmed, she now ran out and told her mother, 
who said she must have fancied it, or else that she must 
be ill. She said that she was quite well and that she was 
sure she had seen the animal. Then her mother promised 
to wait outside the door, and if the dog appeared again 
her daughter said she would call her. Presently the 
daughter saw the dog again, but he disappeared when 
she called her mother. Soon afterwards the mother was 
taken ill and died. Before her death she said to her 
daughter, " Remember the black dog." 

Another family in the east of England has a tradition 
that the appearance of a black dog portends the death 
of one of its members. It was not said that no death 
took place without such warning ; but only that, when 
the apparition occurred, its meaning was certain. The 
eldest son of this family married. He knew not whether 
to believe or disbelieve the legend. On one hand he 
thought it superstitious to receive it, and, on the other, 
he could not altogether reject it in the face of much 
testimony. In this state of doubt — the thing itself being 
unpleasant — ^he resolved to say nothing on the subject 
to his young wife. It could only, he thought, worry and 
harass her, and could not by any possibility do any good, 
and he kept this resolution. In due course of time he 
had a family ; but of the apparition he saw nothing. At 
length, one of his children was taken ill with small-pox ; 
but the attack was slight and not the least danger was 
apprehended. He was sitting down to dinner with his 
wife, when she said, " I will just step upstairs and see 
how baby is going on, and I will be back again in a 


moment." She went and, returning rather hastily, said, 
" Baby is asleep ; but pray go upstairs, for there is a 
large black dog lying on his bed. Go up and drive it out 
o£ the house." The father had no doubt of the result. 
He went upstairs ; there was no black dog to be seen ; 
but the child was dead.^ 

The New Hall at Nafferton was the occasional residence 
of the Derwentwater (Radcliffe) family, who left it for 
Dilston Hall in 1768. Gradually the place fell into decay 
and strange things were seen about the house. The 
apparitions were most frequent at times of birth or death, 
or as preliminaries to any fatal accident, and they took 
the forms of a white weasel, a white hen, or a white 
rabbit, and sometimes a headless person dressed in white. 
Rappings and other noises were frequent, and became so 
obtrusive that finally a farmer who lived in the house 
decided to investigate matters. He called his brother 
to help him, and as the worst noises came from a cavity 
in his own room, covered by a hearthstone and called 
the " Priest's Hole," they began by digging up the 
hearthstone. Beneath it was an accumulation of rubbish, 
which they emptied out until they found a flagged recess, 
surrounded at the sides by a stone seat, the actual hiding- 
place of priests, usual in the houses of gentry of Roman 
Catholic tenets. Seeing nothing extraordinary, they were 
about to desist from their labours when they thought 
they heard a voice urging them to go on digging. From 
the " priest's hole " they entered another apartment, and 
then a third, where they found a blood-stained shirt 
and nightcap, which were apparently of new hnen, but 
as soon as they were exposed to the atmosphere they 
crumbled away like " burnt tinder." 

On careful inquiry it was discovered that about the 
time of the Radcliffes' occupancy, an old pedlar had been 
murdered on the spot and his goods stolen by the inn- 
keeper's daughters. 2 

1 " The Unseen World," 1853, pp. 79-80. 

2 " The Denham Tracts," Ed. by James Hardy, 1895, Vol. II, pp. 19^-6, 


Albert Smith, whose brother was a pupil at Guildford 
Grammar School, tells a story of a phantom vision which 
appeared at the time of a death. Several of the school- 
boys had been sitting up all night for a frolic when one 
of them said, " FU swear there's a likeness of our old 
huntsman on his grey horse going across the whitewashed 
wall ! " He was laughed at for being so superstitious, 
but next morning a servant came from the family to say 
" the old huntsman had been thrown from his horse 
and killed that morning whilst airing the hounds." 

It is no easier to attempt to explain such an apparition 
than it is to say why Jemmy Lowther, the '' bad Lord 
Londsale," was said to dash about in his phantom coach 
and six after his death. 

Another member of a noble family was responsible for 
bringing trouble on his house through his wicked 

The Lambtons were haunted for nine generations by 
a horrible snake or worm which brought much evil in 
its train. One day the heir to the estate, a ne'er-do-well, 
was fishing in the Wear on a Sunday and catching nothing 
he vented his anger in loud curses. Soon afterwards 
there were indications that a fish was on his line, and, 
to his disgust, he found he had hooked a monster, some- 
thing between a worm and a serpent. Terrified, he 
threw the creature into a well close by. Before long, 
repenting of his wicked ways, he betook himself to the 
Crusades, leaving his aged father to look after the estates 
without him. Meanwhile the monster he had caught 
grew too large for the well and crawled forth to work ill 
to the country-side, laying waste the land, devouring 
cattle, and:'plundering right and left. The villagers tried 
to appease!it by offerings of milk, but no real release was 
to be had from this serpent-tyrant until the return of 
the young heir from the Crusade. Then he battled with 
the monster for freedom, much in the manner of St. 
George and the Dragon, except that he took a vow to 
offer as a sacrifice the first living thing he met after his 


victory was won. To his horror this happened to be 
his father, and incapable of parricide, he preferred to 
allow a curse to descend on posterity, and for nine genera- 
tions the Lambtons died by violence. 

But no Christian might his father slay, 
No penance the deed atone ; 
And no Lambton for nine ages past, 
To die in his bed was known. 

Another story tells of what happened to a noble dame 
when she died, after having lived an evil life. 

Lady Howard in the time of James I was said to be 
the possessor of evil qualities in spite of her beauty and 
accomplishments. She was cruel to her only daughter, 
and was thought to get rid of her husbands by mysterious 
means, for she had been married four times. 

When she died she had to do penance for her sins. 
Being transformed into a hound, she was compelled to 
run a long distance every night from her residence at 
Fitzford, to Okehampton Park and back to her old home, 
carrying a blade of grass picked from the park. This 
work was to go on until all the grass had been removed 
from Okehampton. 

That evil-doing is punishable by a descent in the scale 
of being is a sahent point which appears in the race- 
beliefs of many nations. 

The Lady Sybil of Bernshaw Tower, a fair maid of 
high rank but evil repute, turned into a white doe after 
making a strange compact with the devil. Rich, young, 
and beautiful, her desires were still unsatisfied and she 
longed for supernatural powers, so that she might take 
part in the witches' Sabbath. At this time. Lord WilHam 
of Hapton Tower (a member of the Townley family) 
was a suitor for Lady Sybil's hand, but his proposals did 
not meet with her approval. In despair, he decided to 
consult a famous Lancashire witch called Mother Helston, 
who promised him success on All Halloween. In accord- 
ance with her instructions he went hunting and at a 


short distance from the Eagle's Crag a milk-white doe 
started from behind the thicket, and he found it impos- 
sible to capture the animal. His hounds were wearied 
and he returned to the Crag, almost determined to give 
up the chase, when a strange hound joined his pack. 
Then a fresh start was made, and the strange hound. 
Mother Helston's famihar, captured the white doe. 
That night an earthquake shook Hapton Tower to its 
foundations and in the morning the white doe appeared 
as the fair Lady Sybil, who had been fleeing from her 
suitor in animal shape. Thus Lord William married the 
heiress of Bernshaw Tower, but a year later she renewed 
her diabolical practices and not until she lay near death 
was it possible for Lord William to have the devil's bond 
cancelled, which he did by enHsting the holy offices of 
a neighbouring priest. After her death Bernshaw Tower 
was deserted and tradition says that on All Halloween, 
the hound and the milk-white doe meet on the Eagle's 
Crag, where Lady Sybil lies buried, and are pursued by 
a spectre huntsman in full chase. ^ 

Sometimes the ghost of a human being has the power 
of taking animal shape, as in the case of the eccentric 
Miss Beswick of Birchen Bower, HoUinwood. 

Birchen Bower was a quaint four-gabled mansion built 
in the form of a cross, and attached to it was a large barn, 
where many uncanny incidents happened. 

" On the 22nd of July," says the " Manchester 
Guardian" of August 15, 1868, "the remains of Miss 
Beswick were committed to the earth in the Harpurhey 
Cemetery. There is a tradition that this lady, who is 
supposed to have died about one hundred years ago, had 
acquired so strong a fear of being buried alive that she 
left certain property to her medical attendant, so long 
as her body should be kept above ground. The doctor 
seems to have embalmed her body with tar, and then 
swathed it with a strong bandage, leaving the face ex- 

1 Dyer, T. F. Thistleton, " Strange Pages from Family Papers," 189S, 
pp. 168-70. 


posed, and to have kept ^ her ' out of the grave as long as 
he could. For many years past the mummy has been 
lodged in the rooms o£ the Manchester Natural History 
Society (Peter Street), where it has been an object of 
much popular interest. It seems that the commissioners, 
w^ho are charged with the rearrangement of the Society's 
collections, have deemed this specimen undesirable, and 
have at last buried it." 

A curious bargain appears to have been made by Miss 
Beswick, namely, that every twenty-one years her body 
was to be taken back to Birchen Bower and be left there 
for one week, and the more elderly inhabitants declared 
that this was done at the stated times, and the body laid 
in the granary of the old farmstead. On the morning 
when the corpse was fetched away, the horses and cows 
were invariably found to have been let loose, and some- 
times a cow would be found up in the hayloft, although 
how it came there was a mystery, as there was no passage 
large enough to admit the animal. The last prank of 
this description played by Miss Beswick, as far as informa- 
tion goes, was a few years ago when a cow belonging to 
the farmer then tenanting the place was found in the 
hayloft. Naturally enough the neighbours believed that 
supernatural agency had been employed to place it there. 
This occurred at the fourteenth anniversary of seven 
years after Miss Beswick died, and it was a recognised 
fact that some apparition was usually seen at Birchen 
Bower at the expiration of every seven years. No one 
could explain how the cow could get into the loft, and 
blocks had to be borrowed from Bower Mill to get 
her down again through the hay-hole outside the 

After Miss Beswick's death her house was divided up 
into several cottages, and she seems to have haunted the 
spot. To one family she appeared as an old lady in a 
silken gown, and her arrival was invariably announced to 
them as they were seated at supper by a rustling of silk 
which was heard at the entrance. Soon after the lady, 


arrayed in black silk, glided into the room, walked straight 
into the parlour and disappeared at one particular flag- 
stone. As she annoyed no one her appearance never 
drew forth any further remark than " Hush ! Here's the 
old lady again." 

Tradition said that Miss Beswick had hidden vast 
sums of money and other articles of value in the time 
of Prince Charlie (1745), and a weaver who lived in a 
part of the haunted house found a tin vessel full of gold 
pieces under the floor of the haunted parlour. It was 
thought after this discovery that the phantom lady 
would rest in her grave, but this was not the case, and she 
recently appeared near an old well by the brook-side. A 
rustic going to fetch water, saw a tall lady standing by 
the well, wearing a black silk gown and a white cap with 
a frilled border. She stood there in the dusk in a defiant 
or threatening attitude, streams of blue light appearing 
to dart from her eyes and flash on the horror-stricken 
spectator. This appearance of the phantom was said to 
mean that Miss Beswick could get no rest until certain 
members of her family regained their property, a result 
which does not appear to be yet achieved, for the 
phantom still haunts the neighbourhood, on clear moon- 
light nights, walking in a headless state between the old 
barn and the horse-pool, and at other times assuming the 
forms of different animals which, however, are always 
lost sight of near the horse-pool. Some people think that 
Miss Beswick concealed something on this spot in 1745, 
and is now anxious to point out her treasure to anyone 
brave enough to address her. On dreary winter nights 
the barn where the phantom cow was found is said to 
appear as though on fire, a red glow being observed 
through the loopholes and crevices of the loft, and loud 
noises proceeding from the building as though the evil 
one and his demons were holding revels there. But if 
an alarm of fire is raised by a frightened neighbour and 
the farmer has the premises searched, all is found to be 
in order, and the terror-stricken inhabitants of the 


village declare that Madame Beswick is up to her ghostly 
pranks again. ^ 

The popular belief in transformation is at the root of 
a strange family story about Callaly Castle, which is 
beautifully situated at the foot of the wooded slopes of 
Callaly Castle Hill, whose highest peaks are some 800 feet 
above sea level. In the modern building are incorporated 
the remains of an ancient border tower, the stronghold 
of the Claverings. The Survey of 1541 says, " At 
Callalye ys a toure of th'inheritaunce of Claverynge in 
measurable good repac'ons." 

This was probably the tower which owed its erection 
on its present site — the " Shepherd's Shaw," to a differ- 
ence in opinion between the Lord and Lady of Callaly 
in olden days. 

The following account of the legend was given by 
Mr. George Tate, f.g.s., in an article on '' Whittingham 
Vale," contributed to the ''Alnwick Mercury," in 1862: 
*' A lord of Callaly in the days of yore, commenced 
erecting a castle on the hill : his lady preferred a low, 
sheltering situation in the vale. She remonstrated, but 
her lord was wilful, and the building continued to pro- 
gress. What she could not obtain by persuasion she 
sought to achieve by stratagem, and availed herself of 
the superstitious opinions of the age. One of her servants 
who was devoted to her interests, entered into her 
scheme : he was dressed up like a boar, and nightly he 
ascended the hill and pulled down all that had been built 
during the day. It was soon whispered that the spiritual 
powers were opposed to the erection of a castle on the 
hill ; the lord himself became alarmed, and he sent some 
of his retainers to watch the building during the night 
and discover the cause of the destruction. Under the 
influence of the superstitions of the times those retainers 
magnified appearances, and when the boar issued from 
the wood and commenced overthrowing the work of the 

^ Ingram, J. H., " The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of 
Great Britain," 1901, pp. 345-52. 


day, they beheld a monstrous animal of enormous power. 
Their terror was complete when the boar, standing 
among the overturned stones, cried out in a loud voice : 

" Callaly Castle built on the height, 
Up in the day and down in the night ; 
Builded down in the Shepherd's Shaw, 
It shall stand for aye and never fa'." 

They immediately fled and informed the lord of the 
supernatural visitation ; and, regarding the rhymes as 
an expression of the will of Heaven, he abandoned the 
work, and, in accordance with the wish of his lady, built 
his castle low down in the vale where the modern 
mansion now stands."^ 

The animal connected with the Coneely family is a 
seal. In the west of Ireland there is a seal-clan; the clans- 
man, calling himself after the seal, conceives himself to 
be of the blood of the eponym animal. In very ancient 
times some of the Coneely clan were changed by " art 
magick " into seals and since then no member of the family 
can kill a seal without incurring bad luck. Seals are 
called Coneelys, and on this account it was said that 
many branches of the family changed their name to 
Conolly.2 'pj-^g story was so thoroughly believed that it 
was said that people who knew of it would " no more kill 
a seal, or eat of a slaughtered one than they would of a 
human Coneely." 

In the Faroe Isles the seals are said to appear once a 
year in human form, and in 1872 a writer to the journal 
of the Anthropological Institute tells the story of an Irish 
girl who was transformed into a seal. 

" The seals which abound on the rocky parts of the 
shore," he explains, '' are regarded with profound venera- 
tion, and on no account could a native be induced to 
kill one, as they are said to be the souls of their departed 
friends. In the hut of the king is the skin of a large white 

^ " The Denham Tracts," Vol. I, p. 324. 

* " The Arch^ological Review," 1889, Vol. Ill, pp. 217, 315 ff. 


seal, which I ascertained was piously treasured on account 
of having formerly been occupied by the soul of a maiden. 
The following is the legend related to me : — 

" ' Many years ago a beautiful young girl lived upon 
the island and was the betrothed of a '' dacent boy " by 
the name of Rooney. One day Rooney and his bride- 
elect were fishing out in a coracle, when a storm arose 
and the frail craft capsized. The terrified lover en- 
deavoured in vain to save his sweetheart. Before sinking 
for the last time she said farewell to him, and said she 
would become a white seal and would sing to him. The 
broken-hearted Rooney swam ashore, but his reason had 
fled. He daily made a pilgrimage round the island in 
the hope of meeting his departed in the shape of a white 
seal ; but his journeys were always fruitless. 

'"At length one stormy winter night, Rooney started 
from his couch saying, " Hark, I hear her singing. She 
calls me now," and before anyone could stop him, he 
had bounded off and was lost in the darkness. His 
friends were about to follow when they were deterred by 
a plaintive voice, chanting a melancholy lay, but when 
daylight broke it ceased. Then a search was made and 
down on the seashore they found the dead body of 
Rooney with a dead white seal clasped to his breast.' " 
The souls of the lovers had fled to an enchanted island. 

Siward in the legend was the son of a bear and had 
bear's ears. Brochmail was a tusked king of Powis. A 
tusked or pig-headed birth is said to appear periodically 
in the Powis family, and there was a story of one member 
who was so repulsive to the sight that he was kept shut 
up in the oubliette of Powis Castle. 

In Llayn (Carnarvonshire) it is said that March 
Amheirchion, the Lord of Castell March, had horse's ears, 
as in the Irish story. These instances are again related 
to the birth of monsters and deformities, like the Con- 
cheannaich or Dogheads, an ancient race who inhabited, 
in former days, the district now called Moygoniby in 


Conaire the Great, a mythical king of Ireland, was the 
son of a Bird King and was therefore forbiiden to kill 
any feathered creatures. 

In Scotland the clan Chattan, who gavj their name to 
Caithness, called their Chieftain Mohr an Chat, the 
Great Wild Cat, probably owing to some physical 

Cuchullaine, the " hound of Culain," is a totem nanie. 
There is a story of a witch who offered one of the family 
some cooked dog-flesh to eat, but he refused it as it was 
against the law that he should " eat his namesake's flesh." 

His name was originally Setanta, but his nickname was 
obtained in this way: One night when he followed 
Conchobar to the house of Culain, a smith, the gates 
were locked, and a ferocious dog lay in watch. The boy 
killed the hound, and when the smith lamented his loss, 
Setanta said, " I will be your cu (dog) until another is 
grown large enough to guard your house," whence he 
was called hound of Culain or Cuchullaine. 

According to one account Cuchullaine has more 
affinity with a bird than with a dog. '' Not only does 
Cuchullaine bear obvious in his name his origin as a 
cuckoo god but his birth, exploits, and death are those of 
a cuckoo."^ 

When he was going forth to his last fight he met 
three crones, daughters of the mist, who asked him to 
sup with them. Bent on his destruction, they were 
cooking a hound with poison and spells on spits of the 
rowan tree. He refused to partake of the dish because 
it was against the law, and they rebuked him, saying, '' It 
is because the food is only a hound and so you despise it 
and us." His chivalry thus appealed to, Cuchullaine 
helped himself to a shoulder-blade out of the stew, and 
held it in his left hand while he was eating, putting it, 
when finished, under his left thigh. Then his left hand 
and thigh became stricken and he had no strength for 
the fight. 

1 Ka7,C. dc, " Bird Gods," 1898, p. 92. 


For a ghost to take the form of an animal is not at all 
unusual, and it has been suggested that human ghosts 
when they appear in the guise of bulls, dogs, sheep, or 
other animals are accounted for by being " throw- 
backs of the spirit to a lower animal form." 

Black dogs with glowing eyes like hot embers, phantom 
calves, white rabbits, etc., are sometimes thought in 
Lincolnshire to haunt the spots where murder or suicide 
has been committed. They are supposed to be either 
spectres of the dead in brute form or demons, and in 
Denmark there is a legend that pigs or goats, if buried 
alive in walls, turn to spectres. 

In Wales the belief exists that the devil can manifest 
as a pig, calf, dog, or headless horse. 

A woman once passing through a village in North 
Pembrokeshire at night shouted, " Come out, you evil 
one ! " and there appeared a white cat in answer to her 
call. In the same country a certain Mr. David Walter 
was passing two large stones called locally the Devil's 
Nags, accompanied by a mastiff, when an apparition in 
the form of a huge dog appeared in his path. He tried 
to set his own animal upon the other, but the mastiff 
was frightened and would not attack the phantom. 
Thereupon Walter picked up a stone and was about to 
throw it at the evil beast when it was suddenly illumined 
by a circle of fire, and he knew it to be one of the " in- 
fernal dogs of hell." 

A black calf was said to haunt a stream in the same 



neighbourhood and one night two villagers caught the 
animal and took it home. They locked it up safely as 
they thought, but in the morning it had disappeared. 

The Roaring Bull of Bagbury is a famous Shropshire 
ghost. Miss Georgina Jackson recites the story as it was 
told by an old farmer called Hayward.^ 

A very bad man lived at Bagbury Farm, and when he 
died it was said of him that he had only done two good 
deeds in his life, one being to give a waistcoat to a poor 
old man and the other a piece of bread and cheese to a 
poor village lad. After he was dead, his ghost refused to 
rest and haunted the farm buildings in the shape of a bull, 
roaring till the boards, the shutters, and the tiles seemed 
about to fly off the outhouses. It was quite impossible 
for anyone to live within range of this roaring which 
usually began about nine or ten o'clock at night, some- 
times even earlier, and at last became so troublesome 
that the people at the farmhouse sent for twelve parsons 
to lay the ghost. 

When the parsons came " they got him under," but 
could not lay him, and at last they drove him, still in the 
shape of a bull, into Hessington Church. All the parsons 
carried candles, and one of them, who was blind, knowing 
that there was danger from a stampede, placed his 
lighted candle in his top-boot. It was a good thing that 
he did so, for presently the animal made a great rush, 
and out went every candle except that belonging to the 
blind parson who said, as though prepared for the event, 
" You light your candles by mine." But before he was 
laid the bull made such a " burst " that he cracked the 
wall of the church from top to bottom, as hundreds of 
witnesses have asserted from that day to this. 

At last they secured the ghost " down into a snuff- 
box," as the custom is, and he begged that he might be 
laid under Bagbury Bridge, declaring that every mare 
that passed over the bridge should lose her foal and every 
woman her child. This threat made them refuse his 

1 < 

' Shropshire^Folk-lore," pp. 108-9. 


request, and they laid him in the Red Sea, where he has 
to remain for a thousand years. The knowledge that he 
was so far away did not prevent the villagers being very 
chary of crossing Bagbury Bridge at night-time. 

Another story of a man who turned into a bull after 
death is told of a squire at Millidrope in Corve Dale. 
He was killed by a fall from one of the upper windows of 
the Hall, and an indelible blood-stain marks the spot. 
Unfortunately for his peace of mind, his estate, owing 
to his own carelessness or to the malpractices of his 
trustees, went to the wrong heir. Unable to rest in his 
grave owing to this piece of injustice, the squire haunted 
his own parish, where he was frequently seen in the guise 
of a flayed bulL^ 

Edmund Swifte tells a story of an animal ghost in 
the Tower, which appeared while he was keeper of the 
Crown Jewels. The peculiar point about the story is 
that this phantom animal was seen with fatal results. 
One of the night sentries in the Jewel chamber was 
alarmed by a figure like a huge bear issuing from beneath 
the door. He thrust at it with his bayonet, which stuck 
in the door. Then he fell into a fit and was carried sense- 
less to the guard-room. His fellow sentry declared that 
the man was neither asleep nor drunk, he himself having 
seen him the moment before awake and sober. Swifte 
saw the man in the guard-house after the incident, when 
he lay prostrated with terror, and two or three days later 
the poor sentry was dead.^ 

In the outer Hebrides it is believed that demons take 
the form of dogs, and a story is told of a priest's dog 
which was lying on the hearth while his master was hear- 
ing confessions. Suddenly the animal started up, annoyed 
beyond endurance by the atmosphere of ultra-piety and, 
exclaiming, " If you liked me before, you never will 
again," he vanished amidst a shower of sparks. 

The Highlanders have also a legend of an ownerless 

^ " Shropshire Folk-lore," p. 642. 

2 " Notes and Queries," 2nd Series, Vol. X., pp. 192-3. 


black dog, which caused all kinds of misadventure in the 
vicinity where he prowled. A hunter shot at the dog 
with a silver bit, and the aim was so successful that 
nothing more was seen of the animal. Suddenly a small 
boy ran up to the hunter with a terrible story of his 
grandfather who had died within sight of his home as 
though stricken by a gun-shot wound, and on examina- 
tion it was found indeed that the silver piece was im- 
bedded in his flesh. There was no further misfortune 
in the village after this double event, but the tale has 
more of witchcraft about it than ghostliness. 

Samuel Drew, who was apprenticed to a shoemaker, 
had a curious experience at St. Blazey in Cornwall. It 
is told in his life written by his son. 

** There were several of us boys and men, out about 
twelve o'clock on a bright moonlight night. I think we 
were poaching. The party were in a field adjoining the 
road leading from my master's to St. Austell, and I was 
stationed outside the hedge to watch and give the alarm 
if any intruder should appear. While thus occupied I 
heard what appeared to be the sound of a horse approach- 
ing from the town, and I gave a signal. My companions 
paused and came to the hedge where I was, to see the 
passenger. They looked through the bushes and I drew 
myself close to the hedge that I might not be observed. 
The sound increased, and the supposed horseman seemed 
drawing near. The clatter of hoofs became more and 
more distinct. We all looked to see what it was, and 
I was seized with a strange indefinable feeling of dread : 
when, instead of a horse, there appeared coming towards 
us, at an easy pace, but with the same sound which first 
caught my ear, a creature about the height of a large 
dog. It went close by me, and as it passed, it turned upon 
me and my companions huge fiery eyes that struck terror 
to all our hearts. The road where I stood branched off 
and on the left there was a gate. Towards the gate the 
phantom moved, and without any apparent obstruction, 
went at its regular trot, which we heard several|minutes 


after it had disappeared. Whatever it was, it put an 
end to our occupation and we made the best of our way 

" I have often endeavoured in later years, but without 
success, to account for what I then heard and saw on 
natural principles. I am sure there was no deception as 
to the facts. It was a night of unusual brightness, occa- 
sioned by a cloudless full moon. The creature was unlike 
any animal I had then seen, but from my present recol- 
lections it had much the appearance of a bear, with a 
dark shaggy coat. Had it not been for the unearthly 
lustre of its eyes, and its passing through the gate as it 
did, there would be no reason to suppose it anything 
more than an animal perhaps escaped from some men- 
agerie. That it did pass through the gate without pause 
or hesitation I am perfectly clear. Indeed we all saw it, 
and saw that the gate was shut, from which we were not 
distant more than about twenty or thirty yards. The 
bars were too close to admit the passage of an animal of 
half its apparent bulk, yet this creature went through 
without an effort or variation of its pace." 

Peele Castle in the Isle of Man is haunted by an appari- 
tion called the Manx dog, a shaggy spaniel, which was 
said to walk in every part of the building, and to lie in 
the guard-chamber before the fire by candlelight. In 
days gone by the soldiers were accustomed to the appari- 
tion, but all the same they suspected it was an evil spirit, 
and all were afraid to be left alone in its presence, and 
were also careful of the language they used lest they 
should receive an injury if they swore before it. The 
animal used to appear and return by a passage in the 
church, and as this passage was also used by the soldier 
who had to deliver the keys to the captain, and he was 
terrified at the thought of meeting the phantom, it 
was arranged that he should have a companion, and after 
that they went two by two, never singly. 

One night one of the soldiers who had been drinking 
and was in a bragging mood, declared that he would 


carry back the key alone, though it was not really his 
turn to go. He would not listen to the others, who tried 
to dissuade him. Blustering and swearing, he snatched 
up the bunch of keys and marched off. Presently a great 
noise was heard outside, but the soldiers were too 
frightened to go out and see what was taking place. 
In staggered the adventurous boaster, struck dumb with 
horror at what he had seen, nor could he by sign or word 
explain what had happened to him, but died, in terrible 
agony, his features distorted and his limbs writhing. 

After this occurrence no one would venture through 
the passage, which was soon bricked up, and the appari- 
tion never appeared again in the castle. 

Hergest Court, in Herefordshire, was haunted by a 
demon dog said to have belonged to Black Vaughan. 
Black Vaughan was himself said to be the ghost of the 
member of the family whose monument rests in Kingston 
Church. So powerful was this ghost that he appeared in 
daylight and upset farmers' waggons, or rode with the 
old wives to Kingston Market. Once he was said to have 
appeared in church in the form of a bull, and the usual 
elaborate form of exorcism was required to dislodge him, 
in which twelve parsons with twelve candles had to remain 
in the church until they had " read him down into a 
silver snuff-box." The demon dog always appeared as a 
warning that death was nigh to one of the Vaughan 

The Black Dog of Hergest was famous all over the 
country-side, and no one ventured to enter the room he 
was said to haunt. At night he clanked a chain, but at 
other times he was seen wandering about without one, 
often near a pond on the high road to Kingston. 

Another phantom dog-story comes from the parish of 
Dean Prior, a narrow woodland valley watered by a 
stream. Below a beautiful cascade is a deep hollow called 
the Hound's Pool. At one time there lived near to this 
spot a skilful weaver. After his death he was seen by 
his family working as dihgently as ever at his loom, and, 



this being regarded as uncanny, application was made to 
the vicar of the parish as to what steps were to be taken 
to remove the apparition. The parson called at the 
cottage where the weaver had lived and, hearing the 
noise of the shuttle in the upstairs room, called to the 
ghost of the weaver to descend. 

" I will," replied the weaver's voice, " as soon as I 
have worked out my shuttle." 

" No," replied the vicar, " you have worked long 
enough. Come down at once." 

So the phantom appeared, and the vicar, taking a 
handful of earth from the churchyard, threw it in his 
face. In a moment the apparition turned into a black 
hound. " Follow me," said the vicar, and the dog 
followed to the gate of the wood, where a mighty wind 
was blowing. The vicar picked up a nutshell with a hole 
in it and leading the hound to the pool below the cascade, 
said, " Take this, and dip out the pool with it. When it 
is empty thou shalt rest." 

The hound still haunts the spot, and to those who can 
see is ever at work on the waters of the pool.^ 

Similarly Tregeagle, the famous Demon of Dosmery 
Pool, in Cornwall, is doomed to empty the pool with a 
limpet shell which has a large hole in it. 

A story is told of a talking Dog which haunted Dobb 
Park Lodge. 

A treasure-seeker who went to explore the under- 
ground vaults at the Lodge saw a great, black, rough 
dog as large as any two or three mastiffs, which said, " No, 
my man, as you've come here, you must do one of three 
things, or you'll never see daylight again. You must 
either drink all the liquor there is in that glass, open 
that chest, or draw that sword." 

The chest was iron-bound and too heavy to move, 
the drink was scalding hot, and the sword glittered and 
flashed like lightning wielded by an unseen hand. For- 
tunately the treasure-seeker escaped after extraordinary 

^ " Notes and Queries," December 28, 1850, p. 515. 


experiences with his bare Hfe, returning as empty-handed 
as he came, and since then no one has ventured into the 
ruined vauhs of Dobb Park Lodge, and the chest of gold 
is said to be still there, waiting for an adventurer who can 
brave the terrors of the " Talking Dog " and his sur- 

The neighbourhood of Burnley used to be haunted by 
a phantom locally called " Trash " or " Striker." These 
names came from the sounds made by the animal which 
had the appearance of a large dog with broad feet, shaggy 
hair, drooping ears and " eyes as large as saucers." His 
paws made a splashing noise as of old shoes on a muddy 
road, and now and again the brute emitted deep howls. 
His presence was considered a certain sign of death in 
the family of anyone who caught sight of the apparition. 
If followed by anyone the animal began to walk back- 
wards, keeping his eyes on the pursuer. At the slightest 
inattention on the part of his companion the phantom 
vanished. Sometimes he plunged into a pool of water, 
at others he dropped at the feet of the pursuer with a 
curious splashing sound. Some attempted to strike the 
animal, but there was no substance present to receive 
the blow, though the apparition remained in the same 
position as before the blow was delivered. 

Some animal ghosts appear in different shapes at 
different times. 

The Manor of Woodstock was haunted in 1649 ^7 ^^ 
apparition described by several witnesses whose narra- 
tives may be found in Dr. Plott's " Natural History of 

Commissioners took up residence at the Manor House 
on 13 October, 1649, ^^^ heard nothing of the ghost 
until three days later when " there came, as they thought, 
somewhat into the bedchamber (where two of the com- 
missioners and their servants lay), in the shape of a dog, 
which, going under their beds, did as it were gnaw their 
bed cords, but on the morrow finding them whole and a 
quarter of beef, which lay on the ground, untouched 


they began to entertain other thoughts." On the follow- 
ing day, the 17th, some evil spirit hurled the chairs and 
stools up and down the Presence Chamber, '* from 
whence it came into the two chambers where the com- 
missioners and their servants lay and hoisted their beds' 
feet so much higher than their heads that they thought 
they should have been turned over and over ; and then 
let them fall down with such force, that their bodies 
rebounded from the bed a good distance." 

The next day also a mysterious visitor appeared to be 
present, which fetched the warming-pan out of the with- 
drawing-room and made so much noise " that they 
thought five bells could not have made more." On the 
20th and 2 1 St of October various phenomena occurred, 
and then came a respite until the 25th, on the night of 
w^hich, amongst other curious sounds and sights, there 
was " a very great noise as if forty pieces of ordnance 
had been shot off together." Peace was restored until 
the 1st of November when " something came into the 
withdrawing-room, treading, as they conceived, much 
like a bear, which at first only walked about a quarter of 
an hour : at length it made a great noise about the 
table and threw the warming-pan so violently, that it 
quite spoiled it. It threw also glass and great stones at 
them again, and the bones of horses, and all so violently 
that the bedstead and walls were bruised by them." 
This night they set candles all about the rooms, and made 
great fires up to the mantle-trees of the chimneys, but 
all were put out, nobody knew how. Nor was this all. 
For in spite of the fact that one of the commissioners had 
the boldness to ask in the name of God what it was, 
vv^hat it would have, and what they had done, that they 
should be disturbed in this manner, and the questions, 
although evoking no answer, caused a temporary cessa- 
tion of noise, it returned bringing seven devils worse 
than itself. Whereupon one of the watchers lighted a 
candle and set it between tw^o rooms in the doorway, on 
which another of them " fixing his eyes saw the similitude 


of a hoof, striking the candle and candlestick into the 
middle of the bedchamber and afterwards making three 
scrapes on the snuff to put it out. Upon this the same 
person was so bold as to draw his sword, but he had scarce 
got it out, when there was another invisible hand had 
hold of it too, and tugged with him for it and prevailing, 
struck him so violently with the pummel that he was 
stunned with the blow." 

This was too much, and two days later the com- 
missioners and their men removed out of the house, 
unable to stand the strain they were undergoing any 

An apparition of a lady in the form of a colt is some- 
what unusual, but has been seen, if we may believe the 
statement of a woman called Sarah Mason. Sarah also 
saw the ghost of a man who hanged himself and came 
back afterwards in the form of a large black dog. 

The story of Obrick's Colt^ concerned a lady who was 
buried with all her jewels and whose corpse was afterwards 
robbed by the clerk. She haunted the spot, it was said, 
in the shape of a colt, and the guilty clerk, meeting the 
phantom animal late one night in a narrow lane, went 
down on his knees, and said earnestly, " Abide, Satan, 
abide. I am a righteous man and a psalm-singer." The 
clerk was called Obitch or Holbeach, from which the 
ghost is supposed to have taken the name of Obrick's 
Colt. An old woman in the village declared that " Obitch 
used to say that he saw the colt as natural as any Christian, 
and he used to get up against the stile for him to get up 
on top of his back, and at last the colt grew so bold that 
folks saw him in the daytime." Holbeach, if that was his 
real name, never again knew peace of mind on this earth. 

On the 2 1st of January, 1879, a labourer had taken 
some luggage from one Shropshire village to another, 
and on the return journey, his horse being tired, he 
reached a canal bridge some way from home about ten 
o'clock at night. To his horror a huge black creature 

^ Jackson, G. E., " Shropshire Folk-lore," pp. 108-10. 


with gleaming white eyes jumped out of the hedge and 
settled on the horse's back. He beat at the phantom 
with his whip, which, to his astonishment, instead of 
meeting with resistance went through the apparition. 
The terrified horse broke into a canter and tore home 
with the strange creature clinging to his back. 

The adventure was much discussed in the neighbouring 
villages, and some days later the labourer's master was 
called upon by a policeman who had somehow got know- 
ledge of an account that he had been robbed when cross- 
ing the canal bridge in question late one evening. 
The policeman was told there had been no robbery, 
and a version of the tale as it had happened was given 

" Was that all ? " he cried in disappointed tones. " I 
know what that was. It was the man-monkey, sir, as 
does come at that bridge ever since a man was drowned 
in the canal at that spot."^ 

The following story was told to Berenger-Feraud* and 
happened at a country house on the plateau of the Garde 
near to Toulon. One evening a woman was sitting by 
the side of her father who had been lying dangerously 
ill in bed for some days with a disease which the doctors 
could not identify. The neighbours came in to offer 
their services, to keep watch over the sick man so that 
his daughter, who had spent several nights without any 
sleep, could go and lie down to rest. She thanked them 
but refused to do so. 

Nevertheless they insisted on remaining, and as it 
was cold she invited them to sit round the fire in the 
kitchen to warm themselves. As her father seemed to 
be asleep for a little while she went into the kitchen to 
speak to her visitors. 

Of a sudden they heard the sick man give a terrible 
cry of pain and fright. They all hurried into his room 
to see what was the matter, and there, just above the 

1 " Shropshire Folk-lore," pp. 106-7. 

2 " Superstitions et Survivances," 1896, Vol. V, pp. 19-20. 


old man's bed, was a huge stinging-fly which hovered 
round and round him, buzzing in a horrible manner. 

They tried to catch the dangerous insect, but this was 
not an easy matter, for it buzzed so loudly that it posi- 
tively menaced those who came near it. From time to 
time it hurled itself at the limbs of the sick man, and 
every time it touched him he gave vent to a shriek of 
pain. Those who were near him could see large black 
blisters rising at the spots where the stinging-fly attacked 

At last one of the men who had more courage than the 
others beat down the gigantic insect with his hat. They 
picked up its body with a pair of tongs and threw it out 
of the house, shutting the door tightly so that it could not 
return to its attack. 

The deed accomplished, they looked at one another 
terrified at what had taken place, and to their horror 
they could plainly hear the buzz of the insect outside. 
The noise was so loud that the windows positively rattled. 
Then a howl arose outside, a cry so strange that no one 
present had ever heard the like, and after that all was 

They went back to the bedside of the sick man, who 
had suffered severely, and who told them that he had 
been suddenly awakened by this horrible stinging-fly, 
which had hummed in his ears and struck at his body, in 
such a terrifying manner that he felt sure it must be an 
evil spirit. 

Now that the insect had been captured and put out 
of the house he felt better, but none of the visitors 
dared to leave the cottage, feeling sure that a sorcerer was 
mixed up in the affair. They passed the night sitting 
round the fire, carefully avoiding all mention of the 
matter, as they were afraid that the noise of buzzing 
and humming would begin afresh. 

The next morning at sunrise, they decided to open 
the door, and then they saw the huge insect lying on the 
ground just outside. But the mysterious part of it was 


that those who were courageous enough to look at it 
closely, stated that it was not the real insect that was 
lying there but merely its outer shell or covering, just 
like the skin sloughed by a grasshopper and left behind 
when it changes its shape. 

This then was taken to be proof positive that the sting- 
ing-fly was not what it had pretended to be, but was a 
wizard in disguise, which had intended to do harm to 
the old invalid, and the horrible cry which had been heard 
when the insect had been thrown out of doors was only 
the howl of rage uttered by the wizard at the failure of 
his wicked designs. 

A woman at Toulon told the following story in 1888, 
saying it had happened in her presence when she was a 
little girl. Her father, whose name was Isidore, was an 
omnibus driver and for many years had lived with his 
own sister in peace and friendliness. One day, however, 
they fell into an argument and had such a violent quarrel 
that they decided that they could no longer live together. 
Isidore, however, felt grieved to think that matters had 
come to such a pass between himself and the sister he 
had always loved, and he told a friend about the affair. 
The friend answered, " You have quarrelled with your 
sister, because one of your neighbours, who is a sorcerer, 
has cast a spell over you. To end the enchantment you 
must give your horses a jolly good hiding to-morrow 
morning, and then you will see the result. The person 
who has bewitched you will be taken ill and will bear 
about his or her body the traces of the blows you give to 
your horses." Next day Isidore whipped up his horses, 
as he had been told to do, and he went on slashing them 
all day long. In the evening he went to bed feeling as 
though he had done a praiseworthy deed. The next 
day his sister came to see him and spoke to him quite 
affectionately, and they decided to bury the hatchet just 
as though no quarrel had taken place. Then Isidore, to 
his surprise, heard that a neighbour, of whom he had been 
very fond until then, and whom he had not in the least 


suspected of witchcraft, had been taken ill. He hastened 
to visit her, and found she was in bed, and that she showed 
traces of having been beaten. As soon as he entered the 
room to condole with her she said to him bitterly, " Why 
on earth did you strike your horses so violently ? What 
harm had the poor beasts done to you ? " 

This was taken as proof that the neighbour was a 
witch, and that the weals on her body were the stigmata 
of the blows which Isidore had given his horses, and he 
was convinced that this woman had tried to separate 
him from his sister through sheer jealousy. 

The well-known ghost of Tedworth, Wiltshire, called 
the *' Drummer of Tedworth," sometimes took the form 
of an animal, or at least was heard making animal sounds. 
The following description is taken from Joseph GlanvilPs 
" Sadducismus Triumphatus." 

On one occasion the village blacksmith stayed in the 
house sleeping with the footman, hoping he might hear 
the supernatural noises and be cured of his incredulity 
when " there came a noise in the room as if one had been 
shoeing a horse, and somewhat came, as it were, with a 
pair of pincers," snipping away at the sceptical smith. 
Next day the ghost came panting like a dog out of breath, 
and a woman who was present, taking up a stick to strike 
at it, the weapon " was caught suddenly out of her 
hand and thrown away : and company coming up, the 
room was presently filled with a bloody noisome smell," 
and was very hot, though there was no fire, and the winter 
was severe. " It continued scratching for an hour and a 
half and then went into the next room, when it knocked 
a little and seemed to rattle a chain." 

Sometimes the phantom purred like a cat and it was 
described by a servant as " a great body with two red 
and glaring eyes." 

The Rev. Joseph Glanvill himself went to the haunted 
house in January, 1662, and was convinced that the 
noises were made by a demon or spirit. He heard a 
strange scratching, as he went upstairs, which appeared 


to come from behind the bolster of the children's bed. 
It was loud scratching, and when he thrust his hand 
behind the bolster at the point from which the noise 
seemed to come it ceased but began in another place. 
When he removed his hand, however, it began again in 
the same place as before. " I had been told that it would 
imitate noises," says Glanvill, " and made trial by 
scratching several times upon the sheet, as five, and seven 
and ten, which it followed, and still stopped at my 
number. I searched under and behind the bed, turned 
up the clothes to the bed cords, grasped the bolster, 
sounded the wall behind, and made all the search I 
possibly could." But all his endeavours were fruitless ; 
he could discover nothing. There was neither cat nor 
dog in the room. After scratching for more than half 
an hour, the phantom went into the midst of the bed, 
under the children, " and then seemed to pant very 
loudly, like a dog out of breath. I put my hand upon 
the place and felt the bed bearing up against it, as if 
something within had thrust it up." The motion it 
caused by this panting was so strong that it shook the 
walls and made the windows rattle ; yet this strange 
animal ghost was never explained. 

At Epworth parsonage, Lincolnshire, when the Rev. 
Samuel Wesley, father of John Wesley, was rector, there 
is a well-known story of the haunting of the parsonage. 
Robert Brown the servant heard, among other pheno- 
mena, " as it were the gobbling of a turkey-cock close 
to the bedside." 

The dog, a large mastiff, showed enormous fear of the 
strange incidents and apparitions. " When the dis- 
turbances continued he used to bark and leap and snap 
on one side and the other, and that frequently before 
any person in the room heard any noise at all. But after 
two or three days he used to tremble and creep away 
before the noise began. And by that the family knew it 
was at hand." 

Ewshott House, in Crondall, Hampshire, was haunted 


by a ghost that made a noise exactly as though a flock of 
sheep from the paddock had rushed by the windows on 
the gravel drive. In the morning, however, there were 
no signs of sheep having passed that way. 

Willington Mill was haunted by several spectres in the 
shape of animals. The mill stood on a tidal stream 
which ran into the Tyne near to Wallsend. The account 
of strange happenings there was published by the 
" Newcastle Weekly Leader " many years ago. One of 
the servants once saw a lady in a lavender-coloured dress 
pass the kitchen door, go upstairs, and vanish into one of 
the bedrooms, but little notice was taken of this appari- 
tion ; indeed it was almost forgotten when something 
else happened which drew attention to it. A certain 
Thomas Davidson was courting this servant and was 
waiting for her to come out of the mill and join him in 
a moonlight ramble, when, looking towards the building, 
he distinctly saw a whitish cat run out and presently it 
came close to his feet. 

Thinking the strange puss was very forward, he gave 
her a kick, but encountered no solid matter and puss 
continued her walk, disappearing from his sight a 
moment later. Returning to the window, and looking 
in the same direction, Davidson again saw the animal. 
This time it came hopping like a rabbit, coming quite 
as close to his feet as before. He determined to have a 
good rap at it, and took deliberate aim : but, as before, 
his foot went through it and he felt nothing. Again he 
followed it, and it disappeared at the same spot as its 
predecessor. The third time he went to the window 
and in a few moments it made another appearance, not 
like a cat or rabbit now but as large as a sheep and brightly 
luminous. On it came and Davidson stood rooted to 
the spot as though paralysed, but the animal moved on 
and vanished as before. 

Mr. Proctor, who lived at the mill, on hearing David- 
son's account, said that he had seen the animal on various 


After this experience ghosts were frequently seen and 
heard of at the mill. The noises were dreadful, some- 
times sounding like a galloping donkey, at others like 
falling fire-irons. Doors creaked and sticks crackled as 
though burning, and the rapping became almost incessant. 
Sometimes the lavender-gowned lady appeared, and at 
another time several of the inmates of the mill saw a 
bald-headed old man in a flowing robe like a surplice. 
Spectral animals always formed an important feature of 
the haunting. 

In November, 1841, a gentleman paid a visit to the 
place and was confronted by the figure of an animal 
about two feet high, which appeared in a window. After 
careful search nothing was found, though the animal was 
seen in the window by others from the grounds for half 
an hour, after which it slowly faded away. A two-year- 
old child saw a ghost kitten, while Davidson's aunt 
thought the spectre looked like a white pocket handker- 
chief, knotted at four corners, which danced up and 
down, leaping as high as the first floor window. This 
lady was one day standing by the kitchen table when she 
was startled by the bark of a dog, and two paws were 
laid heavily on her shoulders, so that she had to lean 
against the table for support. No dog, however, was 
found in the house. On several occasions the children, 
though nothing had been said to them about ghosts, 
found amusement in chasing up and down the stairs 
some animal they described either as a " funny cat or a 
bonny monkey." 

In 1853, an attempt was made to discover the secret 
of the mystery of the mill by a clairvoyante, who in her 
trance distinctly saw, the " lady like a shadow, with 
eyes but no sight in them," as she described her, as well 
as a number of animals. When questioned about these, 
she answered, " One is like a monkey and another like a 
dog. Had the lady dogs and monkeys ? They all go 
about the house. What is that other one .? It is not a 
pussy, it runs very fast and gets amongst feet. It is a 


rabbit but a very quick one." When asked whether the 
animals were real, the medium replied in her quaint 
way, " We don't touch them to see, we would not like a 

Beyond this there appears to have been no solution as 
to the mystery of the haunted mill, although the medium 
declared that the trouble " came from the cellar."^ 

A writer in " Notes and Queries,"^ H. Wedgewood by 
name, visited Mr. Proctor in 1873-4 "^^ ^^^ ^™ ^^^ truth 
about the Willington Mill ghost, and he told her that he 
had seen a tabby cat in the furnace room. There was 
nothing unusual in the animal's appearance, and it would 
not have caught his attention particularly had it not 
begun to move. But then instead of walking like an 
ordinary cat it wriggled along like a snake. He went 
close to it and followed it across the room, holding his 
hand about a foot above it, until it passed straight into 
the solid wall. 

The well-known Cornish tradition says that if a young 
woman dies neglected after being betrayed by her lover, 
she haunts him after her death in the form of a white 
hare. The false lover is continuously pursued by the 
phantom. At times it may rescue him from danger, but 
in the end it is the cause of his death. 

The following story of a phantom hare pursuing a 
false lover to his death is told by Robert Hunt in " Popu- 
lar Romances of the West of England."' 

A young farmer settled at a fine new farmhouse and a 
peasant's daughter was placed there in charge of the 
dairy. The young farmer fell deeply in love with her 
and she with him, and he betrayed her under a promise 
of marriage, but his family refused to agree to the alliance 
taking place, and provided a bride for him suitable to his 
station. The dairymaid was sent away ignominiously 
when it was known she was about to become a mother. 

^ " Real Ghost Stories," pp. 261-75. 

2 Sixth Series, Vol. VII, January 6, 1883, pp. 12-13. 

8 1881, pp. 377-8. 


One morning the corpse of a newly-born infant was 
found in the farmer's field and the dairymaid was 
accused of strangling her child, and was finally convicted 
of murder and executed. 

But ever after that day ill-fortune pursued the young 
farmer who had behaved in such a cowardly way, and 
though he removed to another part of the country, none 
of his projects prospered. Gradually he took to drink to 
drown his secret sorrows. He generally went out at dusk 
and it was noticed that a white hare constantly crossed 
his path. The animal was seen by many of the villagers 
to dart under the hoofs of his horse, and the terrified 
steed rushed madly forward whenever this phantom 

A day came when the young farmer was found drowned 
in a pool at the bottom of a forsaken mine, and the 
frightened horse was still grazing near the mouth of 
the pit into which his master had fallen. 

The woman he had betrayed and left to die a shameful 
death, having assumed the shape of a white hare, had 
haunted the perjured and false-hearted farmer to his 

It is said that fatal accidents in mines are often 
foreshadowed by the appearance of a white hare or 
rabbit. At Wheal Vor, writes Mr. Hunt, in " Popular 
Romances of the West of England," it has always been 
and is now believed that a white rabbit appears in one of 
the engine houses when an accident may be looked for 
in the mine. The men say that they have chased the 
phantom animals without being able to catch them, and 
on one occasion the rabbit ran into a " windbore " which 
lay on the ground and escaped. Similarly in a French 
mine one of the miners saw a white object run into an 
iron pipe and hide there. He hastened forward and 
stopped up both ends of the tube, calling to a companion 
to examine the pipe. But the animal ghost had dis- 
appeared and nothing remained to explain what had taken 


The devil appeared in the form of a hare at the 
hanging of two men on Warminster Down in 18 13, it 
was said. At Longbridge the devil appeared in the form 
of a dog one Palm Sunday, according to the account of a 
labourer, who when questioned as to how this was 
proved, exclaimed, " Sum' at was there anyhow, and we 
all fled ! " 

A farmer in South Wilts who died about i860, threat- 
ened to revisit his farm on a lonely moor and run about 
in the shape of a rat. The story does not say what he 
expected to gain by choosing this particular animal for 
transformation purposes. 

Superstition gives to white birds a particular power of 
conveying omens. 

A small white bird plays a part in warning an old 
harper in Wales of the destruction of a prince's palace, 
whither the bard had been invited to perform at festivi- 
ties held on the occasion of the birth of an heir. 

Tradition relates that Bala Lake was formed as a 
means of submerging a palace where lived a cruel and 
wicked prince, who practised oppression and injustice 
upon poor farmers of the district. The tyrant often 
heard a ghostly voice urging him to desist from his 
evil ways and saying, " Vengeance will come," but he 
treated the warning with contempt. 

On the occasion of his son's birth, there was great 
rejoicing at the palace, and the poor harper was called in 
to play to the guests. Mirth, wine, feasting, and dancing 
continued till a late hour, and during the interval in 
which the harper was allowed to rest, he retired into a 
quiet corner, where, to his astonishment, he heard a 
whisper in his ear, " Vengeance, vengeance ! " Turning 
to discover whence the sound came, he observed a tiny 
white bird hovering about him, urging him, as it were, 
to follow. He fell in with the creature's wishes without 
stopping to fetch his harp, and the bird led him beyond 
the palace walls, still singing in a plaintive note the word 
" Vengeance, vengeance ! " Over marshland, through 


thickets, across streams and up ravines this strange pair 
wandered, the bird seemingly choosing the safest path 
for her companion, and growing ever more insistent in 
her cries of " Vengeance, vengeance ! " At last they 
came to the summit of a hill some distance from the 
palace. Utterly weary the harper ventured to stop and 
rest, and the bird's voice w^as heard no more, but as he 
listened he could distinguish the loud murmur of a 

Suddenly he awoke to the fact that he had allowed 
himself to be led away foolishly, and he attempted to 
retrace his steps. In the dark, however, he missed his 
way and was forced to await daylight. Then to his sur- 
prise he turned his eyes upon the valley in which the 
palace had stood and discovered that it was no longer 
to be seen, for the waters had flooded the face of the land, 
and on the placid lake that lay in the valley his harp was 

Another story of birds that foreshadowed a calamity is 
told about Yorkshire. A writer in " Notes and Queries"^ 
passed through the district of Kettering on September 6, 
and noticed an immense flock of birds which flew round 
and round, uttering dismal cries. He spoke of the matter 
to his servant, who told him the birds were called the 
" Seven Whistlers," and that whenever they were heard 
a great calamity might be expected. The last time he 
had heard them was the night before the great Hartley 
Colliery explosion. Curiously enough the writer, on 
taking up the newspaper the following morning, saw 
an announcement of a terrible colliery explosion at 

On the Bosphorus the boatmen say, with reference to 
certain flocks of birds which fly ceaselessly up and down 
the channel, never resting on land or water, that they 
are the souls of the damned, doomed to perpetual motion. 

A strange bird-ghost is connected with the lake and 
house of Glasfryn. On a certain evening, Grassi, which is 

1 October 21, 1871. 


the phantom's name, forgot to close the well and the 
waters overflowed and formed a lake. There she wanders 
at night bemoaning her carelessness. She also visits the 
house as a tall lady with well-marked features, large, 
bright eyes and dressed all in white. Another version of 
the story is that when the water overflowed and the lake 
was formed, the fairies seized Grassi and changed her 
into a swan and she continued to live by the waters for 
more than a century and died still lamenting her lot. 
Another version runs that the lady was changed into a 
swan as a punishment for haunting the house. 

Holt Castle, in Worcestershire, is said to have been 
haunted by a mysterious lady in black who walked through 
a passage which led to the attics, while the cellar was in 
the possession of a phantom bird, not unlike a raven, 
which occasionally pounced upon the servants who went 
to draw beer or cider from the casks there. By flapping 
his wings, the unholy bird extinguished the candle of 
the adventuresome human being who invaded his domain, 
and then vanished, leaving his victim prostrated with 

York Castle was the scene in which an extraordinary 
ghost took animal shape. The story is told in the 
Memoirs of Sir John Reresby. 

" One of my soldiers being on guard about eleven in 
the night at the gate of Clifford Tower, the very night 
after a witch had been arraigned, he heard a great noise 
in the castle ; and going to the porch there saw a scroll 
of paper creep from under the floor, which, as he im- 
agined by moonshine, turned first into the shape of a 
monkey, and thence assumed the form of a turkeycock, 
which passed to and fro by him. Surprised at this, he 
went to the prison and called the under-keeper, who 
came and saw the ' scroll ' dance up and down, and creep 
under the door, where there was scarce an opening of 
the thickness of half a crown. This extraordinary 
story I had from the mouth of both one and the 


Among the curiously shaped phantoms are those which 
have an important part of their anatomy lacking, and 
most common of all are the ghosts, human and animal, 
that are seen without a head. Indeed the belief in head- 
less spectres, both of equine and canine beings, is remark- 
ably widespread throughout England. 

The Rev. Richard Dodge, a Cornish clergyman, who 
lived near Looe, was an exorcist, and was said to be able 
" to drive along evil spirits of various shapes, pursuing 
them with his whip." One day his services were com- 
manded by a Mr. Mills, Rector of Lanreath, who said 
that labourers had been startled by an apparition of a 
man in black garb driving a carriage drawn by headless 
horses. Mr. Dodge met Mr. Mills, but as they saw no 
apparition, they parted to return to their respective 
homes. Mr. Dodge's horse grew restive and refused to 
proceed, so he, thinking something uncanny was about 
to take place, allowed the animal to return to the spot 
where he had parted from Mr. Mills, whom, to his dis- 
tress, he found lying prostrate on the ground with the 
spectre and his black coach and headless horses beside 

Jumping down to assist his friend. Dodge uttered a 
prayer, and the spectre screaming, " Dodge is come, I 
must be gone," whipped up the ghost horses and vanished 
into the night. 

Spectre horsemen are common and one is said to haunt 
Wyecoller Hall. The ghost is dressed in the costume of 
the Stuart period, and the trappings of the horse are of 
uncouth description. On windy nights the horseman is 
heard dashing up to the Hall. The rider dismounts, 
makes his way up the stairs into a room on the first 
landing, whence presently screams and groans issue. 
Suddenly the horseman reappears and gallops off, the 
horse appearing wild with rage, its nostrils streaming 
fire. The tradition is that one of the Cunliffes of Billing- 
ton, for long the owners of Wyecoller Hall, near Colne, 
murdered his wife and reappears every year as a spectre 


horseman in the home of his victim. She is said to have 
predicted the extinction of the family, a prediction long 
since fulfilled. 

The midnight hunter and his headless hounds are often 
to be seen in Cornwall, and the Abbot's Way, on Dart- 
moor, is said to be a favourite spot for their visitations. 
Sir Francis Drake was supposed to drive a hearse into 
Plymouth by night, followed by a pack of headless, but 
nevertheless howling, hounds. On Cheney Downs in the 
parish of St. Teath, ghostly hounds said to have belonged 
to an old squire called Cheney, were often seen and heard, 
especially in rough weather. 

Heme, the ghostly hunter of Windsor Forest, has his 
counterpart in the Grand Veneur of Fontainebleau. 
While hunting in his favourite forest, Henry H of France 
was suddenly startled by the sound of horns, and the cries 
of huntsmen and the barking of dogs. At first they 
sounded far away, but soon they came close by. 
Some of the company in advance of the king " saw a 
great black man among the bushes," crying in sepulchral 
tones, " M'attendez-vous ? " or " M'entendez-vous ? " 
or " Amendez-vous." The king, startled, inquired of 
the foresters and peasants what they knew of the 
apparition. He was informed that they had fre- 
quently seen the rider, accompanied by a pack of 
hounds, which hunted at full cry, but never did any 

Dan gives Pierre Matthieu's version of the story and 
adds, " I know what several authors narrate concerning 
the hunt of Saint Hubert, which they declare is heard in 
various parts of the forest. Nor do I ignore what they 
say of the spectre called the ' Whipper,' which was sup- 
posed to appear in the time of Charles IX in the forest 
of Lyons, and which left the mark of the lash on several 
people. Nor do I doubt that demons may wander in 
the forest as well as in the air. But I know well as 
regards the ' Grand Veneur ' nothing is certain, least of 
all the circumstances in which, according to the reports 


of the authors, this phantom appears, and the words of 
which he makes use."^ 

The spectre huntsman chasing the wild doe and the 
headless hounds in full cry are amongst the many pro- 
minent demon superstitions still extant and the chief 
legends concerning them, with their variants, are men- 
tioned by Charles Hardwick in " Traditions, Super- 
stitions, and Folk-lore." 2 The appearance of these and 
other animal spectres, however, has never been satis- 
factorily explained, and the question that naturally occurs 
to the student after reading such stories is whether 
animals are able to send forth astral or phantasmal 
doubles in a manner similar to that in which it is believed 
human beings can project them. 

^ Dan, " Le Tresor des Merveilles de Fontainebleau." 
^ 1872, pp. 153 et seq. 


According to Adolphe d'Assier, member of the Bordeaux 
Academy of Sciences, there is no doubt that the exist- 
ence of the personaHty in animals as a separate appear- 
ance is estabHshed, and as it is a repHca of the external form 
of the animal, he regards it as a living and phantasmal 
image. ^ He cites the following stories in support of his 

" Towards the end of 1869, finding myself at Bordeaux, 
I met one evening a friend who was going to a magnetic 
seance, and asked me to accompany him. I accepted his 
invitation, desiring to see magnetism at close quarters. 
The seance presented nothing remarkable. I was, how- 
ever, struck with one unexpected circumstance. To- 
wards the middle of the evening one of the persons 
present, having noticed a spider on the floor, crushed 
it with his foot. 

" * Ah ! ' cried the medium at the same moment, ' I 
see the spirit of the spider escaping.' 

" In the language of mediums, as we know, the word 
spirit designates that which I have called the posthumous 

" ' What is the form of the spirit ? ' asked the hypno- 

" ' It has the form of a spider,' answered the medium.' " 

This little incident, which recalls the ghost of a flea 
pictured by William Blake, the artist, and Dr. Reichen- 
bach's dying mouse, led d'Assier to study the question 

1 " Posthumous Humanity," 1887. 


of the duplication of personality among domestic 
animals. After some investigation he was sure that the 
medium's vision of a spirit spider was the reality, and he 
quotes other examples of phantasmal doubles. 

On April i8th, 1705, M. Milanges de la Richardiere, 
son of an advocate to the Parliament of Paris, when 
riding through Noisy-le-Grand, was surprised when his 
horse came to a dead stop in the middle of the road. At 
the same moment he saw a shepherd, of sinister counten- 
ance, carrying a crook, and accompanied by two black 
dogs with short ears. The man said, " Go home, sir. 
Your horse will not go forward." 

At first the rider laughed, and then finding he could 
not make his horse advance an inch, he was forced to 
return, against his will. Some days later he was taken ill, 
and doctors were called in, who finding that his complaint 
did not yield to ordinary remedies, began to talk of 
sorcery. Young Milanges then confessed to his meeting 
with the strange shepherd and his dogs, and a few days 
later, to his surprise, when entering his own room, he 
saw the shepherd sitting in an arm-chair, dressed as he 
had seen him before, holding the crook still in his hand, 
and with the two black dogs by his side. In his terror 
the young man called for his servants, but they could 
not see the phantom man and animals. 

At about ten o'clock the same night, however, the 
ghostly shepherd flung himself at the young man, who 
drew a knife from his pocket and made five or six cuts at 
his adversary's face. 

A few days later the shepherd came to the house and 
confessed that he was a sorcerer and had persecuted M. 
Milanges. He had transported his double into the young 
man's chamber, as well as the phantasmal doubles of his 
black dogs. 

The existence of the living phantom, thus being 
proved to M. d'Assier's satisfaction, he conceives that a 
posthumous phantom is merely the continuation, as it 
were, of the living double. A story of such an animal 


apparition was given to him by an educated and reliable 
farmer at St. Croix, Ariege. 

" One of my comrades," said the farmer, " was re- 
turning home at a late hour of the night. At some dis- 
tance from his house, which was situated on a lonely 
farm, he saw an ass browsing in an oat-field by the side 
of the road. Moved by a feeling of neighbourly interest, 
natural among farmers, he intended to take the unprofit- 
able guest out of the field, and advanced to seize the ass 
and lead it to his own stable so that its owner might 
claim it. The animal allowed him to approach without 
difficulty and to lead it away without resistance. But 
at the very door of his stable the ass suddenly disappeared 
out of his grasp, like a shadow vanishing. In a fright at 
this uncanny incident, the farmer woke up his brother 
to tell him what had occurred, and in the morning they 
went to the oat-field, anxious to see whether much havoc 
had been done to the crops, but could find no trace 
of the oats having been touched or trampled upon." 

The night was clear and there was no cloud in the sky. 
The young man, when closely questioned, asserted again 
and again that he had distinctly seen the ass vanish before 
his eyes at the door of the stable. 

D'Assier's explanation is that the animal's spectre, 
originating on the same principle as the human spectre, 
exhibits posthumous manifestations analagous to those 
observed in the latter cases. The ass of St. Croix was 
met with at night because, like the posthumous phantom 
of a human being, he shuns daylight. '' He is in an oat- 
field, pasturing according to the instinctive habit of his 
race, but in reality browses (as one would naturally infer) 
but the phantom of grass or grain. He follows his leader 
whilst they are upon the road, but refuses to enter the 
stable, which is for him a prison, and vanishes in order 
to escape it. Here we have the essential features of 
posthumous manifestations : and if the young man had 
inquired among his neighbours, he would have learned, 
in all probability, that some time previously a beast of 


burden had died and been buried on a neiehbourine 
farm.'; \ ^ ^ 

A similar story was told by a Customs officer, and is 
equally authentic. 

" One evening when I happened to be on guard, with 
one of my comrades," said the officer, " we perceived not 
far from the village where I lived, a mule which grazed 
before us and seemed as though laden. Supposing that 
he was carrying contraband goods, and that his master 
had fled on seeing us, we ran after the animal. The 
mule dashed into a meadow and after having made 
different bolts to escape us, he entered the village, and 
here we separated. Whilst my companion continued to 
follow him, I took a cross road so as to head him off. 
Seeing himself closely pressed, the animal quickened his 
pace, and several of the inhabitants were awakened by 
the noise of his hoofs clattering on the pavement. I got 
in front of him to the crossing, at the end of the street, 
through which he was fleeing, and at the moment when, 
seeing him close to me, I put out my hand to seize his 
halter, he disappeared like a shade, and I saw nothing 
but my comrade, who was as amazed as myself." 

" Are you quite sure that he hadn't turned aside into 
another road ? " asked d'Assier of the Customs [officer 
who told him the story. 

" That would have been quite impossible : the place 
where we were had no outlet, and the only way he could 
get away was by passing over my body : and, besides, 
the night was clear enough for us to see all his move- 
ments. Next morning the inhabitants of the village were 
cross-questioning each other about the racket they had 
heard in the night." 

" Like the ass of St. Croix," continues d'Assier, " and 
like all posthumous phantoms, our mule shows himself at 
night. He is met in a pasture all absorbed in his favourite 
occupation, that is to say, browsing imaginary grass. As 
soon as he finds himself tracked by the Customs officers 

1 Jbid.f pp. 74-6. 


he takes flight, as though he were really carrying contra- 
band goods in his panniers, and he vanishes when he 
sees himself about to be captured — all things which 
characterise the post-sepulchral Spectre." 

" In certain cases, not yet well defined," adds the same 
author,^ " our internal personality may, by reason of its 
fluidic nature, take on animal forms. Hence, when one 
is in the presence of the spectre of an animal, there is 
some reason to apprehend that this may be a lycanthropic 
manifestation of the human phantom, unless certain 
particularities identify its true origin. But I have said 
enough," he concludes, " to establish the existence of 
the fluid form-personality in animals and to demon- 
strate that the post-sepulchral humanity is but one 
particular case of a more general law — that of post- 
humous animality." 

Another story of animal transformation is regarded by 
d'Assier as being a case of lycanthropia. 

Two brothers occupied a house at St. Lizier, one of 
whom tells the story as follows : — 

" I lived at that time in one of those little houses that 
you can see at the upper end of the town. I was about 
twelve years old and my brother was about seventeen. 
We slept together in a room to which we ascended by a 
small staircase. One evening we had just gone to bed 
when we heard someone ascending the steps. Then an 
animal about the size of a calf appeared. As the window 
had no blinds and the night was clear, it was easy for us 
to make out the animal's shape. Frightened at the sight 
of it, I clung to my brother, who at the first moment 
seemed as frightened as myself. But, recovering from 
his terror, he leaped out of bed, ran and caught up a 
pitchfork which was in the corner of the room, and, 
placing himself before the animal, said to it in a firm and 
resolute voice : 

" ' If thou comest by permission of God, speak : if 
from the devil, thou wilt have to deal with me.' 

1 Op. cit., p. 80. 


" Thus encountered, the animal wheeled swiftly 
round, and in turning it struck the framework of my 
bed with its tail. I then heard it descend the staircase 
precipitately, but as soon as it arrived at the bottom it 
disappeared and my brother, who was close behind it, 
was unable to see where it went. It is unnecessary to 
add that the door of the house was fast shut. As soon as 
I heard it descend the stairs I took courage and as the 
window of our room was over the street door I opened 
it to watch the strange visitor go out, but I saw nothing. 
My brother and I thought we had seen a wer-wolf and 
we accused an inhabitant of the vicinity, to whom were 
charged other adventures of this kind." 

A more explicit case of lycanthropy occurred at Serisols, 
in the Canton of St. Croix, about sixty years ago. 

A miller called Bigot had a reputation for sorcery. 
One day when his wife rose very early to go and wash 
some linen not very far from the house, he tried to dis- 
suade her, repeating to her several times, '' Do not go 
there : you will be frightened." 

" Why should I be frightened ? " she asked. 

" I tell you you will be frightened," repeated her 

She did not take his threats seriously and went out in 
spite of them. 

Hardly had she taken her place at the washing-tub, 
however, before she saw an animal moving here and there 
in front of her. It was not yet daylight, and she could 
not clearly make out its shape, but she thought it was a 
kind of a dog. Annoyed by its restless movements and not 
being able to scare it away, she threw her wooden 
clothes-beater at it, and the tool hit the animal in the 
eye. Immediately the creature disappeared and at the 
same moment Bigot's children heard him utter a cry of 
pain from his bed and shout out, " Ah ! the wretch ! 
She has destroyed my eye." From that day he was blind 
in one eye, so that undoubtedly this animal was not an 
animal double, but the miller's double in animal form. 


D'Assier describes an epidemic of " obsession," or 
possession by demons, which occurred in 1857 ^^ Morzine, 
in Savoy, and lasted until 1863, many young women and 
animals being attacked by a peculiar affliction. The 
atmosphere of Morzine, he says, '' was impregnated with 
a foreign fluid (aura) since all that was required was to 
give change of air to ensure escape from the clutches of 
the disease. In certain families the domestic animals ate 
nothing, or satisfied themselves by gnawing the wood of 
their mangers ; at other times it was the cows, goats, or 
sheep which gave no more milk, and what little some 
yielded was unfit for making into butter. These pheno- 
mena especially showed themselves in families where there 
were patients. Occasionally the sickness was transferred 
from persons to animals, and vice versa. If a young girl 
was relieved, a beast in the stable fell sick ; and if the 
latter was cured the young girl relapsed into her former 
state. In face of such facts it was no longer possible to 
talk about obsession. The pest bursting forth simul- 
taneously in houses and cattle-sheds, could only be 
ascribed to a physical cause, and the disorders that it 
provoked in persons attacked showed clearly that these 
phenomena were due to an excess or a degeneration of 
the mesmeric fluid. . . ."^ As a remedy, d'Assier sug- 
gests that " Obsession being an abnormal afflux of mag- 
netic fluid upon the nervous system of the patient, the 
direct remedy is naturally the neutralisation of this fluid 
by a current of cerebral ether turned in the opposite 
direction and emanating from an energetic will." 

Paracelsus, meaning probably much the same thing, 
declared that the astral currents produced by the imagina- 
tion and will of man produced certain states in external 
Nature. The vehicle through which the will acts for 
effectuating good or evil he calls the living Mumia. The 
Mumia of a thing is its life-principle, a vehicle containing 
the essence of life. Exerting great power, it can be used 

^ " Posthumous Humanity," 1887, pp. 247-8. 


in witchcraft and sorcery. '' Witches," he says in " De 
Pestilitate," " may make a bargain with evil spirits, and 
cause them to carry the Mumia to certain places where it 
will come into contact with other people, without the 
knowledge of the latter, and cause them harm." Thus 
diseases are spread, milk spoilt and cattle infected, the 
injured people not knowing the cause of the evils with 
which they are afflicted. 

A curious story of bewitched cattle and " blue milk " 
is told by Franz Hartmann in his " Life of Paracelsus,"^ 
in which a kind of animal demon appears to have " pos- 
sessed " the cattle. 

At a farmhouse not far from Munich the milk turned 
blue. It had been deposited in the usual place and 
darkened gradually, appearing first a Hght blue, and 
becoming of inky hue, while the layer of cream exhibited 
zigzag lines and shortly the whole mass began to putrefy 
and to emit a horrible smell. This occurred for many 
days running, and the farmer began to despair, for he 
could not discover the cause of the trouble. The stable 
was thoroughly cleansed, the place where the milk was 
kept was changed, a different food was given to the cattle, 
and samples of the milk were sent to Munich to be ex- 
amined by chemists ; the old milk-pots were replaced by 
new ones, and so on, but nothing produced an improve- 
ment in the existing state of affairs. 

At last a Countess who resided in the neighbourhood 
hearing about the matter, went to the farmhouse. She 
took with her a clean new bottle, and filled it with the 
milk as it came from the bewitched cows. She placed 
the bottle in her own pantry, and from that day the 
trouble at the farm ceased, but all the milk at her own 
house turned blue. 

.This went on for three months, during which time 
everything that could possibly be done was done to dis- 
cover the cause of the milk being in this condition. Then 

1 1896, p. 154. 


an old lady who lived hundreds of miles off, having been 
appealed to, laid a spell by her own occult powers, writing 
certain incantations on slips of paper which effected a 
cure of the trouble. But before it ceased, a strange 
thing happened. As one of the milkmaids was about to 
enter the stable before daybreak, a huge black demon, in 
animal form, rushed out of the half-opened door, knocked 
the milk-pail and lantern out of her hands, and disap- 
peared before she could awaken the household. After 
this all went well again. An apparition of this character 
may be regarded as belonging to the familiars or 
elementals rather than to the animal-ghosts. 



Suggestion no doubt plays a large part in producing a 
belief in the power to change form at will, and the 
occult aspect of transformation is perhaps more interest- 
ing than any other view of the subject. Incantations, 
salves, herbs, drugs, perfumes, and other accessories of 
ritual are merely employed to strengthen concentrative 
force and to induce a suitable state of mind. In this sense 
the highest scientific method of transformation is known 
to the Yogi who, by performing samyama on the powers 
of any animal, acquires those powers.^ 

Samyama is the technical name for three inseparable 
processes taken collectively. The three processes are, 
firstly, contemplation, or the fixing of the mind on some- 
thing, external or internal ; secondly, the unity of the 
mind with its absorption, in which the mind is conscious 
only of itself and the object ; and thirdly, trance, when 
the mind is conscious only of the object, and as 
though unconscious of itself. Trance proper is the for- 
getting of all idea of the act, and, still more important, 
the becoming of the object (such as the animal) thought 
upon. Thus, the three stages, contemplation, absorption, 
and trance, are in fact stages of contemplation, for the 
thing thought upon, the thinker, and the instrument 
(together with other things which are to be excluded), 
are all present in the first ; all except the last are present 

^ " The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali." Translated by Manilal Nabhubhai 
Dvivedi, 1890, p. ()(). 



in the second, and nothing but the object is present in 
the third.^ 

The Yogi believes that the mind can enter into another 
body by relaxation of the cause of bondage, and by 
knowledge of the method of passing. The bondage is 
the mind's being bound to a particular body. The cause 
of limiting the otherwise all-pervading mind to a particu- 
lar spot is karma or dharma and adharma, i.e. good or 
bad deeds. When by constant samyama on these, the 
effect of the cause is neutralised and the bonds of con- 
finement loosened, then the mind is free to enter any 
dead or living organism and perform its functions 
through it. But for this purpose a knowledge of effecting 
this transfer is equally necessary. . . . 

We always think in relation to the ego within us, and 
therefore in relation to the body. Even when we direct 
our mind somewhere out of the body, it is still in rela- 
tion with the thinking self. When this relation is entirely 
severed and the mind exists as it were spontaneously, 
outside and independent of the body, the Yogi finds the 
state of internal mind most favourable for passing from 
one corporeal shape into another, for it is nothing more 
than the vrtti (or soul) severed from the body that 
travels from one place to another. The act of the mind 
cognising objects, or technically speaking, taking the 
shape of objects presented to it, is called vrtti, or trans- 
formation. Those familiar with the so-called spirit- 
materialisations will readily comprehend the somewhat 
obscure sense of this aphorism. ^ 

Animal elementals or thought-forms were employed 
by magicians in the remote ages, and believed to be 
created entities which persisted throughout time and 
might be sent forth, somewhat in the nature of a familiar, 
to wreak harm on others. Such animal thought-forms 
are regarded as natural or possible by many occultists 
to-day and two modern stories exemplify this belief. 

A certain Miss Carter went to have tea at a friend's 
^ Ibid.y p. 56. 2 l]}ii^^ p, 71 and pp. 73-4. 


house where she met a lady whom she knew, a Miss 
Thory, the sister of an eminent philosopher. Miss 
Carter asked this lady whether she would be kind enough 
to tell her fortune from the cards, but Miss Thory de- 
clined, saying that she felt tired. Shortly afterwards 
Miss Carter went away and, as soon as her back was 
turned. Miss Thory said to her hostess, " My dear, don't 
have much to do with that young lady, because she goes 
about telling people that she is beloved by an archangel 
who kisses her on the lips, but I have seen the creature 
which hovers about her, and which she takes to be an 
archangel, and it has the shape of a crocodile and is 
trying to influence people through her. It is an evil 

The other story concerns two friends, Mrs. Harper 
and Miss Sylvester, who, travelling together on the astral 
plane, decided to visit the bottom of the sea. They 
believed they arrived there and saw an enormous octopus 
which was floating about amongst the wreckage on the 
ocean bed. Miss Sylvester immediately made the pro- 
tective sign of the Pentacle and suffered no incon- 
venience, but Mrs. Harper neglected to take this precau- 
tion and the monstrous animal followed her about. They 
did not mention these strange experiences to anyone, 
and they were well-nigh forgotten when some time later 
it happened that Miss Sylvester introduced Mrs. Harper 
to one of her friends, a very well-known poet. Meeting 
Miss Sylvester a few days afterwards, he said to her quite 
frankly, " I suppose I ought not to say so to you, but I 
did not much care for your friend, Mrs. Harper. The 
night after you introduced me to her I could not sleep 
and whenever I thought about her I was aware of some 
elemental creature crawling beneath my bed. It had 
the shape of an octopus with horrible tentacles ! " 

Phenomena of this character are explained by the 
occultist as follows : — 

The elemental essence which surrounds us is singularly 
susceptible to the influence of human thought. The 


action of the mere casual wandering thought upon it 
causes it to burst into a cloud of rapidly-moving, evanes- 
cent forms. Thought, seizing upon the plastic essence, 
moulds it instantly into a living being of appropriate 
form — " a being which when once thus created is in no 
way under the control of its creator, but lives out a life 
of its own, the length of which is proportionate to the 
intensity of the thought or wish which called it into 
existence. It lasts, in fact, just as long as the thought- 
force holds it together. Most people's thoughts are so 
fleeting and indecisive that the elementals created by 
them last only a few minutes or a few hours, but an 
often repeated thought or an earnest wish will form an 
elemental whose existence may extend to many days. . . . 
A man who frequently dwells upon one wish often forms 
for himself an astral attendant, which, constantly fed by 
fresh thought, may haunt him for years, ever gaining 
more and more strength and influence over him. . . ." 

It is said that a magician who understands the subject 
and knows what effect he is producing may acquire great 
power along these lines and can call into existence 
artificial elementals which, if he be not careful, escape 
from his control and become wandering demons. 

The magicians of Atlantis brought into being wonderful 
speaking animals who had to be appeased by an offering 
of blood lest they should awaken their masters and warn 
them of impending destruction.^ 

An even more terrible, psychic animal-being is de- 
scribed by occultists as the Dweller on the Threshold. 
In answer to the question. What kind of an animal is a 
human creature born soulless ? Madame Blavatsky^ ex- 
plains that " the future of the lower Manas is terrible, 
and still more terrible to humanity than to the now 
animal man. It sometimes happens that, after the 
separation, the exhausted soul, now become supremely 
animal, fades out in Kama Loka, as do all other animal 

^ " The Secret Doctrine," Vol. II, p. 247. 
2 Ibid., 1897, Vol. Ill, pp. 524-6. 


souls. But seeing that the more material is the human 
mind, the longer it lasts, even in the intermediate stage, 
it frequently happens that after the present life of the 
soulless man is ended, he is again and again reincarnated 
into new personalities, each one more abject than the 
other. The impulse of animal life is too strong : it 
cannot wear itself out in one or two lives only. In rarer 
cases, however, when the lower Manas is doomed to 
exhaust itself by starvation : when there is no longer 
hope that even a remnant of a lower light will, owing 
to favourable conditions — say, even a short period of 
spiritual aspiration and repentance — attract back to 
itself its Parent Ego, and Karma leads the Higher-Ego 
back to new incarnations, then something far more dread- 
ful may happen. The Kama-Manasic spook may become 
that which is called in Occultism, the ' Dweller on the 
Threshold.' . . . 

" Bereft of the guiding Principles, but strengthened 
by the material elements, Kama-Manas, from being a 
' derived light,' now becomes an independent entity, 
and thus, suffering itself to sink lower and lower on the 
animal plane, when the hour strikes for its earthly body 
to die, one of two things happens ; either Kama-Manas 
is immediately reborn in Myalba, the state of Avitchi on 
earth, or, if it becomes too strong in evil — ' immortal in 
Satan ' is the occult expression — it is sometimes allowed, 
for Karmic purposes, to remain in an active state of 
Avitchi in the terrestrial Aura. Then through despair 
and loss of all hope, it becomes like the mythical ' devil ' 
in its endless wickedness ; it continues in its elements, 
which are imbued through and through with the essence 
of Matter ; for evil is coevil with Matter rent asunder 
from Spirit. And when its Higher-Ego has once more 
reincarnated, evolving a new reflection, or Kama-Manas, 
the doomed lower Ego, like a Frankenstein's monster, 
will ever feel attracted to its Father who repudiates his 
son, and will become a regular ' Dweller on the Thres- 
hold ' of terrestrial life." 


Concerning the evolution of man-animal and animal- 
man, Madame Blavatsky^ declares, " it is most important 
to remember that the Egos of the Apes are entities com- 
pelled by their Karma to incarnate in the animal forms, 
which resulted from the bestiality of the latest Third and 
the earliest Fourth Race men. They are entities who 
had already reached the ' human stage ' before this 
Round. Consequently they form an exception to the 
general rule. The numberless traditions about Satyrs 
are no fables, but represent an extinct race of animal men. 
The animal ' Eves ' were their foremothers, and the 
human ' Adams ' their forefathers ; hence the Kabalistic 
allegory of Lilith or Ltlatu, Adam's first wife, whom the 
Talmud describes as a charming woman with long wavy 
hair, i.e. a female hairy animal of a character now 
unknown, still a female animal, who in the Kabalistic 
and Talmudic allegories is called the female reflection of 
Samael, Samael-Lilith, or man-animal united, a being 
called H ay Bischat, the Beast or Evil Beast (Zohar). It 
is from this unnatural union that the present apes 
descended. The latter are truly ' speechless men ' and 
will become speaking animals (or men of a lower order) 
in the Fifth Round, while the adepts of a certain school 
hope that some of the Egos of the apes of a higher intelli- 
gence will reappear at the close of the Sixth-Root race. 
What their form will be is of secondary consideration. 
The form means nothing. Species and genera of the 
flora, fauna, and the highest animal, its crown — man — 
change and vary according to the environments and 
climatic variations, not only with every Round, but 
every Root- Race likewise, as well as after every geological 
cataclysm that puts an end to, or produces a turning- 
point in the latter. In the Sixth Root-Race the fossils 
of the Orang, the Gorilla and the Chimpanzee will be 
those of extinct quadrumanous mammals and new forms 
— though fewer and ever wider apart as ages pass on 

1 Ibid,, 1888, Vol. II, pp. 262-3. 


and the close of the Manvantara approaches — will de- 
velop from the ' cast-off ' types of the human races as 
they revert once again to astral, out of the mire of 
physical life. There were none before man and they 
will be extinct before the Seventh Race develops. Karma 
will lead on the monads of the unprogressed men of our 
race and lodge them in the newly evolved human frames 
of this physiologically regenerated baboon. 

" This will take place, of course, millions of years hence. 
But the picture of this cyclic procession of all that lives 
and breathes now on earth, of each species in its turn, is 
a true one, and needs no ' special creation ' or miraculous 
formation of man, beast or plant ex nihilo, 

" This is how Occult Science explains the absence of 
any link between ape and man and shows the former 
evolving from the latter." 

The Indians believe that sinners are reborn as animals. 
" After having suffered the torments in the hells, the 
evil-doers pass into animal bodies,"^ and their classifica- 
tion of such punishment has been carefully worked out. 

Mortal sinners enter the bodies of worms or insects. 
Minor offenders enter the bodies of birds. Criminals 
in the fourth degree enter the bodies of the aquatic 
animals. Those who have committed a crime effecting 
loss of caste, enter the bodies of amphibious animals. 
Those who have committed a crime degrading to a 
mixed caste enter the bodies of deer. Those who have 
committed a crime rendering them unworthy to receive 
alms, enter the bodies of cattle. Those who have com- 
mitted one of the miscellaneous crimes enter the bodies 
of miscellaneous wild carnivorous animals (such as 

A thief (of other property than gold) becomes a falcon. 

One who has appropriated a broad passage, becomes a 
serpent or other animal living in holes. 

One who has stolen grain becomes a rat. 

1 "The Sacred Books of the East," ed. by F. Max Muller, 1880, 
The Institutes of Vishnu, Vol. VII, pp. 144-5. 


One who has stolen water becomes a water-fowl. 

One who has stolen honey becomes a gad-fly. 

One who has stolen milk becomes a crow. 

One who has stolen juice (of the sugar-cane or other 
plants) becomes a dog. 

One who has stolen clarified butter becomes an 

One who has stolen meat becomes a vulture. 

One who has stolen fat becomes a cormorant. 

One who has stolen oil becomes a cockroach. 

One who has stolen salt becomes a cricket. 

One who has stolen sour milk becomes a crane. 

One who has stolen silk becomes a partridge. 

One who has stolen linen becomes a frog. 

One who has stolen cotton cloth becomes a curlew. 

One who has stolen a cow becomes an iguana. 

One who has stolen sugar becomes a Valguda (kind of 

One who has stolen perfumes becomes a musk-rat. 

One who has stolen vegetables becomes a peacock. 

One who has stolen prepared grain becomes a boar. 

One who has stolen undressed grain becomes a por- 

One who has stolen fire becomes a crane. 

One who has stolen household utensils becomes a wasp. 

One who has stolen dyed cloth becomes a partridge. 

One who has stolen an elephant becomes a tortoise. 

One who has stolen a horse becomes a tiger. 

One who has stolen fruit or blossoms becomes an ape. 

One who has stolen a woman becomes a bear. 

One who has stolen a vehicle becomes a camel. 

One who has stolen cattle becomes a vulture. 

He who has taken by force any property belonging to 
another or eaten food not first presented to the gods, 
inevitably enters the body of some beast. 

Women who have committed similar thefts, receive 
the same ignominious punishment : they become females 
to those male animals. 


Then having undergone the torments inflicted in the 
hells and having passed through the animal bodies the 
sinners are born as human beings with marks indicating 
their crime. 

These transformations came about by the insistent 
wickedness of human thoughts and deeds. Eliphas Levi 
discusses the magic power of the spoken word in bringing 
changes of shape to pass. " In the opinion of the vulgar," 
he says,^ " transformations and metamorphosis have ever 
been the very essence of magic. . . . Magic really 
changes the nature of things, or rather modifies their 
appearances at pleasure, according to the strength of 
the operator's will and the fascination of aspiring adepts. 
Speech creates forms, and when a person reputed in- 
fallible gives anything a name, he really transforms the 
object into the substance which is signified by the name 
that he gives it. . . . 

" The life of creatures is a progressive transformation, 
having forms which may be determined and renewed, 
preserved longer, or else destroyed sooner. If the motion 
of metempsychosis were true, might we not say that 
debauch, represented by Circe, changes men really and 
materially into swine, for the chastisement of vices would 
on this hypothesis be a lapse into those animal forms 
which correspond to them ? Now metempsychosis, which 
has been frequently misunderstood, has a perfectly true 
side. Animal forms communicate their sympathetic 
imprints to the astral body of man and are soon reflected 
on his features, according to the force of his habits. A 
man of intelligent and passive mildness assumes the ways 
and inert physiognomy of a sheep ; in somnambulism, 
however, it is no longer a person of sheep-like appearance 
but a sheep itself that is seen, as the ecstatic and learned 
Swedenborg experienced times out of number. Thus 
we can really change men into animals — it is all a ques- 
tion of will-power." 

" The fatal ascendancy of one person over another is 

^ " Mysteries of Magic," 1897, pp. 233-4. 


the true rod of Circe," he continues. " Almost every 
human countenance bears some resemblance to an animal. 
That is, it has the signature of a specialised instinct. 
Now instincts are balanced hy contrary instincts, and 
dominated by others which are stronger. To govern 
sheep, the dog evokes the fear of the wolf. If you are a 
dog and would be loved by a pretty little cat, be meta- 
morphosed into a cat, and you will win her. But how is 
the change to be accomplished ? By observation, 
imitation, and imagination. ... By polarising one's 
own animal light in equilibrated antagonism with an 
opposite pole."^ 

Paracelsus has written at length on the same aspect of 
the subject. " Men have two spirits," he explains,^ " an 
animal spirit and a human spirit in them. A man who 
lives in his animal spirit is like an animal during life, and 
will be an animal after death : but a man who lives in 
his human spirit will remain human. Animals have con- 
sciousness and reason, but they have no spiritual in- 
telligence. It is the presence of the latter that raises 
man above the animal, and its absence makes an animal 
of what once appeared to be a man. A man in whom 
the animal reason alone is active is a lunatic, and his 
character resembles that of some animal. One man 
acts like a wolf, another like a dog, another like a hog, a 
snake or a fox, etc. It is their animal principle that 
makes them act as they do, and their animal principle 
will perish like the animals themselves. But the human 
reason is not of an animal nature, but comes from God, 
and being a part of God, it is necessarily immortal." 

" The animal soul of man is derived from the cosmic 
animal elements," he writes elsewhere,^ " and the animal 
kingdom is therefore the father of the animal man. If 
man is like his animal father, he resembles an animal ; 
if he is like the Divine Spirit that lives within his animal 

^ Ibid., pp. 237-40. 2 " De Lunaticus." 

3 Hartmann, F., " Life of Paracelsus and Substance of his Teaching," 
1896, pp. 60-2. 


elements, he is like a god. If his reason is absorbed by 
his animal instincts, it becomes animal reason ; if it rises 
above his animal desires, it becomes angelic. If a man 
eats the flesh of an animal, the animal flesh becomes 
human flesh ; if an animal eats human flesh, the latter 
becomes animal flesh. A man whose human reason is 
absorbed by his animal desires is an animal, and if 
his animal reason becomes enlightened by wisdom he 
becomes an angel. 

'' Animal man is the son of the animal elements out of 
which his soul was born, and animals are the mirrors of 
man. Whatever animal elements exist in the world exist 
in the soul of man, and therefore the character of one 
man may resemble that of a fox, a dog, a snake, a parrot, 
etc. Man need not, therefore, be surprised that animals 
have animal instincts that are so much like his own ; it 
might rather be surprising for the animals to see that 
their son (animal man) resembles them so closely. . . . 

" A man who loves to lead an animal life is an animal 
ruled by his interior animal heaven. The same stars 
(qualities) that cause a wolf to murder, a dog to steal, a 
cat to kill, a bird to sing, etc., make a man a singer, an 
eater, a talker, a lover, a murderer, a robber, or a thief. 
These are animal attributes and they die with the animal 
elements to which they belong ; but the divine principle 
in man, which constitutes him a human being, comes 
from God. Man should therefore Hve in harmony with 
his divine parent, and not in the animal elements of his 

The object of human life is therefore to realise that 
one is not an animal, but a god-like being inhabiting a 
human animal form. If man once realises what he 
actually is, he will be able to use his divine powers and 
be himself a creator of forms. ^ 

The same writer describes beings which are neither 
animal nor man, but which have characteristics of both, 
and which he calls Nature-spirits or Elementals. To 

^ Ibid., p. 62. 


these he gives the names of the Gnomes, the Nymphs or 
Undines, the Sylphs or Sylvestres, the Salamanders, the 
Pigmies and the Sirens. He attributes to them curious 
qualities and shapes. They can, for instance, pass through 
matter, yet they are not spirits, rather occupying a place 
" between men and spirits." They are not immortal, 
and when they die they perish like animals. They have 
only animal intellects and are incapable of spiritual 
development. The Nymphs live in the element of water, 
the Sylphs in that of the air, the Pigmies in the earth, 
and the Salamanders in the fire. Each species moves 
only in the element to which it belongs. To each ele- 
mental being the element in which it lives is transparent, 
invisible, and respirable. The Gnomes have no inter- 
course with the Undines or Salamanders, nor the Sylves- 
tres with either. Animals receive their clothing from 
Nature, but the spirits of Nature prepare it themselves. 
The Elementals belonging to the element of water 
resemble human beings of either sex ; those of the air 
are greater and stronger ; the Salamanders are long, 
lean and dry ; the Pigmies are of the length of about 
two spans, but they can extend or elongate their forms 
until they appear like giants. The Elementals of air and 
water, the Sylphs and Nymphs, are kindly disposed 
towards man ; the Salamanders cannot associate with 
him on account of the fiery nature of the element wherein 
they live, and the Pigmies are usually of a malicious 

Men live in the exterior elements and the Elementals 
live in the interior elements. They are sometimes seen 
in various shapes. Salamanders have been seen in the 
shapes of fiery balls, or tongues of fire running over the 
fields or appearing in houses. Nymphs have been known 
to adopt the human shape, clothing, and manner, and to 
enter into a union with man. The Undines appear to 
man but not man to them. They may meet him on the 
physical plane, marry him and keep house with him and 
the children will be human beings and not Undines, 


because they receive a human soul from the man. If an 
Undine becomes united to man she will thereby receive 
the germ of immortality. As an Undine without her 
union with man dies like an animal, likewise man is like 
an animal if he severs his union with God. If any man 
has a Nymph for a wife, let him take care not to offend 
her while she is near the water, as in such case she might 
return to her own element. 

The Sirens are merely a kind of monstrous fish, and 
are related to the Undines much as giant and dwarf 
monsters are related to the Sylvestres and Gnomes. The 
monsters have no spiritual souls and are comparable to 
monkeys rather than to human beings. 

Such creatures seem almost too elusive to be labelled 
as human-animals, but the description given of them by 
the great occultist at least opens the mind to the possi- 
bilities of classifying beings not defined by material 
limitations or by animal senses. Of this character are 
the spirits or elementals called up in strange, and some- 
times even gruesome, animal form by magicians when at 
work casting spells. 



To call up demons the magician takes certain steps by 
which he puts himself into the right frame of mind, and 
by which he also ensures means of protection against 
harmful magical powers which he may bring into play. 

He first draws a magical circle, of different character 
according to the time of the year, the order of the spirits 
desired, the day, the hour, and so forth. Three circles 
about nine feet in diameter with the space of a hand's 
breadth between them is one method, certain signs and 
written particulars being made within each circle. It is 
then necessary to bless and consecrate the work, and 
after nine days' preparation, being provided with holy 
water, perfumes, salves, and ointments, a fine white 
linen garb of a certain shape ; having drawn the pentacle 
of Solomon upon parchment in which to bind unruly 
evil spirits and having recited certain magical incanta- 
tions, exorcisms, and prayers, he is ready and prepared 
for the appearance of the spirits he desires to consult for 
purposes of obtaining knowledge on various things that 
concern him and his destiny. 

Books on ceremonial magic explain how it is possible 
to call up demons in the shape of beasts. " According to 
their various capacities in wickedness," says Reginald 
Scott, " so these shapes are answerable after a magical 
manner ; resembling spiritually some horrid and ugly 
monsters, as their conspiracies against the power of God 
were high and monstrous, when they fell from heaven."^ 

1 Scott, R., " The Discoverie of Witchcraft," 1886, p. 493. 



Devils that belong to the supreme hierarchy, when 
they are called up by magicians, at first appear in the 
form of lions, vomiting fire and roaring hideously about 
the circle. Then they convert themselves into serpents, 
monkeys, and other animals. After the conjuration is 
repeated, they forsake these bestial shapes and gradually 
become more and more human, appearing at last after 
frequent repetition of ceremony, as men of gentle 
countenance and behaviour. 

Demons from the tw^o next orders of the infernal 
regions represent the beautiful colours of birds and 
beasts as leopards, tigers, peacocks, and so forth. By 
conjurations these also may be induced to take on human 
shape. Some, how^ever, can hardly be conjured to desert 
their monstrous forms and continue to exhibit to the 
exorcist a pair of crocodile jav^s or a lion's paw " with 
other dreadful menaces, enough to terrify any novice 
from such damnable injunctions as the practice of magic." 

Such devils as Astaroth, Lucifer, Bardon, and Pownok, 
continues Scott, who incline men and instigate them to 
pride and presumptuousness, have the shapes of horses, 
lions, tigers, or wolves. Those that instigate lust and 
covetousness appear in the form of hogs, serpents, and 
other envious reptiles or beasts, such as dogs, cats, vul- 
tures or snakes. Those who bend men's thoughts to 
murder, have the shape of birds or beasts of prey. More 
tolerable are those qualified to answer questions about 
philosophy and religion when called up, they seem almost 
human, but have crooked noses like mermaids or satyrs. 
Such evil spirits as have a predilection towards inducing 
mixed vices are not of distinct shape like one single beast, 
but are compound monsters with serpent tails, four eyes, 
many feet and horns and so on. 

In Barrett's " Magus or Celestial Intelligencer,"^ the 
author gives the Key to Ceremonial Magic with Conjura- 
tions for every day in the week — to be used in calling up 
famihars and spirits. Many of these appear in animal 

1 1801. 


form, namely, as a cow, a small doe, a goose, and many 

The familiar forms of the spirits of Mars, according to 
Barrett,^ '' appear in a tall body and choleric, having a 
filthy countenance, of colour brown, swarthy, or red, 
having horns like harts, and griffins' claws and bellowing 
like wild bulls." Sometimes they take the shape of a 
she-goat, a horse, or a stag. The spirits of Mercury are 
more affable and human, though they cause horror and 
fear to those that call them. Sometimes they appear as a 
dog, a she-bear, or a magpie. When the familiar forms of 
the spirits of Jupiter are called, there will appear about 
the circle men who shall seem to be devoured by lions, 
and the demons may take the shape of bulls, stags, or 
peacocks. On Friday, for instance, the conjuration may 
bring a camel, a dove, or a she-goat, on Saturday a hog, a 
dragon, or an owl, but it must always be borne in mind 
that apparitions in human shape exceed in authority and 
power those that come as animals. 

The raising of ghosts by fumes is discussed by Cornelius 

''If Coriander, Smallage, henbane, and hemlock be made 
a fume, spirits will presently come together, hence they 
are called the spirit herbs. Also it is said that a fume 
made of the root of herb sagapen with the juice of hem- 
lock and henbane, and the herb tapsus barbatus, red 
Sanders and black poppy makes spirits and strange shapes 

" Moreover, it is said that by certain fumes certain 
animals are gathered together, and put to flight, as 
Pliny mentions concerning the stone Leparis, that with 
the fumes thereof all beasts are called out ; so the bones 
in the upper part of the throat of a hart, being burnt, 
gather all the serpents together, but the horn of the 
hart being burnt doth with its fume chase them all away. 
The same doth a fume of the feathers of peacocks." 

1 " The Magus," 1801, p. 120. 

2 " Occult Philosophy," 165 1, Vol. I, p. 86 et seq. 


" Hags and goblins," says Agrippa, " inoffensive to 
them that are good, but hurtful to the wicked, appear 
sometimes in thinner bodies, another time in grosser, in 
the shape of divers animals and monsters whose con- 
ditions they had in their lifetime. 

" Then divers forms and shapes of brute appear, 
For he becomes a tiger, swine, and bear, 
A scaly dragon and a lioness, 
Or doth from fire a dreadful noise express. 
He doth transmute himself to divers looks. 
To fire, wild beasts, and into running brooks. 

" For the impure soul of man, who in this life con- 
tracted too great a habit to its body, doth by a certain 
inward affection of the elemental body frame another 
body to itself of the vapours of the elements, refreshing 
as it were from an easy matter as it were with a suck that 
body which is continually vanishing. . . ." 

These souls sometimes do inhabit not these kind of 
bodies only, but by a too great affection of flesh and blood 
transmute themselves into other animals, and seize upon 
the bodies of creeping things, and brutes, entering into 
them what kind soever they be of, possessing them like 

Such herbs as belladonna, aconite, parsley, poplar 
leaves, and drugs like opium, hyoscyamine and other 
ingredients, as the blood of the bat, were used among 
other strange ingredients for making the ointments, 
which were rubbed upon the skin until it reddened with 
the friction. This had the effect of making the recipient 
believe he was being transported through the air, and as 
the ingredients mounted more and more to his brain, he 
was filled with imaginary visions of lovely gardens, and 
forests, banquets, music, and dancing, probably also less 
pleasant ideas of devils and mocking ghoulish faces. 

Perfumes too had strange effects in producing states of 
exaltation or trance. 

Mexican priests rubbed the body with a pomade or 
salve to which they attributed magical virtues, and at 


night they wandered in the forests without fear of wild 
beasts, but not necessarily believing they had been trans- 
formed, yet the idea of metamorphosis can surely be 
regarded as a possible hypothesis when it is remembered 
that Man's body is composed fundamentally of the same 
substances as the bodies of animals, that the same 
elements murmur in the waters, rush in the winds and 
form the insensate soil of the earth, that the cells in the 
human being are not essentially different in composition 
or structure from the cells in the bodies of animals, that 
all cells are formed primarily of protoplasm, a compound 
of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, and that scientists have 
already solved the problem of separating matter into 
electrons, and of measuring vibrations even to the million 
and trillion per infinitesimal division of time. Is it to 
be wondered at that in investigating such theories strange 
results have been obtained and curious sights and sounds 
have been seen and heard by the student ? 

The Chaldeans, who were among the world's greatest 
magicians, like the Egyptians, represented demons under 
such monstrous forms, with com^bined human and animal 
characteristics, that it was thought sufficient to show 
them their own image to cause them to flee away in 
alarm. One such specimen, for instance, had the body 
of a dog, the feet of an eagle, the claws of a lion, the tail 
of a scorpion, the head of a skeleton but half decayed, 
and adorned with goats' horns and the eyes still remain- 
ing, and four great expanded wings. Such hideous forms, 
borrowed as they were from the most different animals 
as well as from man, were thought to have the character- 
istic features of the first rudimentary beings born in the 
darkness of chaos. The magical documents of the day 
throw light upon the interpretation of these uncanny 
monsters. They undoubtedly were possessed of a talis- 
manic character and were intended to avert fatal in- 
fluences, on the principle that an image has the same 
value as an incantation, and like it, acts in a direct manner 
on wicked spirits. 


Winged bulls with human heads which flanked the 
entrance gates to palaces were thought to be genii which 
kept real guard for the whole time that their images 
dwelt there without disturbance. Expressive of this was 
the ancient inscription: 

May the guardian bull, the guardian genius, who 
protects the strength of my throne, always preserve 
my name in joy and honour until his feet move 
themselves from their place. 

In one of the magnificent palaces at Nineveh enormous 
figures are represented having the body of a man, the 
head of a lion and the feet of an eagle. These were 
arranged in groups of two figures fighting with daggers 
and clubs. Sometimes the groups represent the struggle 
of gods against malevolent spirits. Occasionally the gods 
were depicted wrestling with one or many bulls or bull- 
headed men whom they assail with swords. Demons of 
this character, called Telal by the Accadians and Gallu 
by the Assyrians were believed to be particularly harmful 
to man. The following fragment of a conjuration applies 
to a struggle of tw^o persons combating two bulls, or 
creatures which are half-men, half-bulls. 

Telal, the bull which pierces, the very strong bull, the bull which 

passes through dwellings, 
(It is) the indomitable Telal, there are seven of them 
They obey no commands, 
They devastate the country 
They know no order, 
They watch men. 

They devour flesh ; they make blood flow ; they drink blood ; 
They injure the images of the gods ; 
They are the Telal which multiply hostile lies, 
Which feed on blood, which are immovable. 

In ancient Egypt incantations and exorcisms were used 
in order to protect the departing soul of man from 
malevolent beasts and also to keep the body from be- 
coming, during its separation from the soul, the prey of 


some wicked spirit which might enter, reanimate, and 
cause it to rise again in the form of a vampire. 

The following formula has been translated hy M. 
Chabas : — 

O sheep, son of a sheep ! lamb, son of a sheep, that 
suckest the milk of thy mother the sheep, do not 
allow the deceased to be bitten by any serpent, 
male or female, by any scorpion, by any reptile ; 
do not allow their venom to overpower his mem- 
bers. May no deceased male or female penetrate 
to him ! May the shadow of no spirit haunt 
him ! May the mouth of the serpent have no 
power over him ! He, he is the sheep I 

O thou which enterest, do not enter into any of the 
members of the deceased ! O thou which killest, 
do not kill him with thyself ! O thou which 
entwinest, do not entwine thyself round him ! 

In another incantation, which was directed against 
various noxious animals, the man who wished to obtain 
shelter from their attacks invoked the aid of a god, as 
being himself a god. 

Come to me, O lord of Gods ! 

Drive far from me the lions coming from the earth, 

The crocodiles issuing from the river ; 

Do not wave thy tail ; 

Do not work thy two arms ; 

Do not open thy mouth ; 

Stop crocodile Mako, Son of Set ! 

In a third formula the enchanter entreats the support 
of Isis and Nephthys 

In order that the jaws of the lions and hyaenas may be sealed, 
The head of all the animals with long tails, 
Who eat flesh and drink blood ; 
That they may fascinate (me) 
To hft up their hearing ; 
To hold me in darkness 
To render me invisible 
Instantly in the night 1 


These magical words did not communicate divine 
virtue alone to man ; animals could also participate in 
them for the protection of man, as they caused an in- 
vincible power to dwell in creatures, like, for instance, the 
watch-dog, to increase his strength by enchantment, the 
formula for which commences : 

Stand up ! wicked dog ! 

Come ! that I may direct thee what to do to-day : 

Thou wast fastened up, art thou not untied ? 

It is Horus who has ordered thee to do this : 

May thy face be open to heaven ! 

May thy jaw be pitiless !^ 

Through solemn incantations, through desire and hy 
will power it may thus be possible to strengthen animal- 
qualities for purposes best known to those who employ 
such means. A modern writer on occult matters ex- 
plains the existence of wer-wolves and vampires on some 
such psychic basis. 

" The popular legends about them," he says,' " are prob- 
ably often considerably exaggerated, but there is neverthe- 
less a terribly serious substratum of truth beneath the 
eerie stories which pass from mouth to mouth among the 
peasantry of Central Europe. . . . All readers of Theo- 
sophical literature are familiar with the idea that it is 
possible for a man to live a life so absolutely degraded 
and selfish, so utterly wicked and brutal, that the whole 
of his lower Manas may become entirely unmeshed in 
Kama, and finally separated from its spiritual source in 
the higher Ego. ... To attain the appaUing pre- 
eminence in evil which thus involves the entire loss of a 
personality and the weakening of the developing in- 
dividuality behind, a man must stifle every gleam of 
unselfishness or spirituality and must have absolutely no 
redeeming points whatever. And when we remember 

^ See Lenormant, F., " Chaldean Magic," chapers III and VII. 
2 Leadbeater, C. W., " The Astral Plane : its Inhabitants and 
Phenomena," 1895, pp. 37-9. 


how often, even in the worst of villains there is to be 
found something not wholly bad, we shall realize that 
the abandoned personalities must always be a very small 
minority. Still comparatively few though they be, they 
do exist and it is from their ranks that the still rarer 
vampire is drawn. . . ." 

The wer-wolf , though equally horrible, is the product 
of a somewhat different Karma, and indeed ought perhaps 
to have found a place under the first instead of the second 
division of the human inhabitants of Kamaloka, since it 
is always during a man's lifetime that he first manifests 
under this form. It invariably implies some knowledge 
of magical arts — sufficient at any rate to be able to pro- 
ject the astral body. When a perfectly cruel and brutal 
man does this, there are certain circumstances under 
which the body may be seized upon by other astral 
entities and materialised, not in the human form but 
into that of some wild animal, usually the wolf ; and in 
that condition it will range the surrounding country 
killing the animals and even human beings, thus satisfying 
not only its own craving for blood, but that of the fiends 
who drive it on. In this case, as so often with the ordinary 
astral body, any wound inflicted upon the animal material- 
isation will be reproduced upon the human physical body 
by the extraordinary phenomenon of repercussion. . . . 

" The vast majority of animals have not as yet acquired 
permanent individualisation and when one of them dies 
the Monadic essence which has been manifesting through 
it flows back again into the particular stratum from which 
it came. . . . The Kamic aura of the animal forms itself 
into a Kamarupa . . . and the animal has a real exist- 
ence on the astral plane, the length of which, though never 
great, varies according to the intelligence which it has 

There is, says J. C. Street in " The Hidden Way Across 
the Threshold," an electro-magnetic invisible liquid in 
which we all float like fish in water. We are living con- 

^ Ibid., pp. 51-2. 


tinually immersed in this ethereal fluid, which is always 
in motion in a whirling vibration. " A cat-Hke soul- 
force can only find satisfaction in a cat-like body, a dog- 
like soul-force in a dog-like body. In every case the soul- 
force, or essence shadow, has a corresponding material 
body. An ape soul-force could no more mould and clothe 
itself in a human body than a mouse soul-force could do 
the same with an elephant body,^ " yet the elements 
that go to make up the human, animal, or floral envelopes 
or bodies, are held in solution in the atmosphere, and can 
through a knowledge of the laws governing it, be utilised 
to construct instantaneously any of the multitudinous 
forms that exist in Nature." Further than this it is im- 
possible at the present moment to explain or to grasp 
this strange theory of transformation which has held a 
place in human thought since the earliest times, as is 
proved by the foregoing collection of traditional pheno- 

1 Street, J. C, " The Hidden Way Across the Threshold," 1896, p. 


No completely satisfactory explanation of the phenomena 
with which this book deals has as yet been formulated, 
but the elucidation of the problems of transformation, 
collected from many sources, should be sought primarily 
in the latent power innate in man which enables him 
to exert or project thought-forces, but little understood 
to-day, of which, however, hypnotism and suggestion 
are the most familiar forms of manifestation. Such 
power, acting upon the plastic mind-substance of the 
spiritual world, may, as far as we know, produce forms, 
animal or otherwise, in accordance with the desire (con- 
scious or subconscious) and the will of the projector. 
To bring about his purpose and procure manifestation 
he has to induce a suitable state of mind, and to this 
end he employs ritual and accessories of various kinds. 

To take a single illustrative case in point. The animal 
masks used in Indian theatrical shows serve as a means of 
suggestive illusion. In mystical shows anticipatory fear 
is evoked by such means. Indians are easily brought to 
a stage of inability to grasp the difference between the 
real and the suggested wild beast. But Indians and other 
primitive races are not the only ones to succumb to a 
strong will bent on producing phenomena. These things 
affect all kinds of people, even in the so-called higher 
grades of civilisation, and the effect of auto-suggestion 
is quite as curious as that of hypnotism. A case has 
recently come under notice of a woman who acquired 
the habit of going down on all fours and making a noise 



of barking, firmly believing that she has been turned 
into a dog. In how much is she removed from the 
hyaena-woman of Abyssinia ? The cure is much the 
same, and is brought about by counter-suggestion in one 
form or another. In such instances, of course, it is not 
to be supposed that actual transformation has taken place, 
but spectators may nevertheless be hypnotised into be- 
lieving what the victim believes. By some such means, 
too, Nebuchadnezzar may have been made to think him- 
self a subject of boanthropy when " he was driven from 
men and did eat grass as oxen," continuing this occupa- 
tion until his body was soaked with the dews of heaven, 
till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails 
like birds' claws. 

What difference is there between such a belief and that 
of the spectator who thinks he sees the devil depart 
from a woman possessed in the shape of a huge black 
slug ? He also may have been influenced by concen- 
trated thought on the subject, and the question arises 
how far can human credulity be worked upon by the 
almost Hmitless and as yet little-understood power of 
the human mind. Much depends on the nature of the 
individual, the environment, and the receptivity to the 
kind of pressure brought to bear. Love of mystery 
and awe of the unknown are also strong factors in 
establishing faith, the first principle necessary for pro- 
ducing creative power. Even the wildest superstition 
enshrines something of reality and a stratum of truth 
underlies most widespread beliefs. 

Research on these psychical subjects should be carried 
on earnestly and with untiring patience, always with a 
view to eliminate the false and preserve the true, wherever 
possible transmuting apparently evil elements and bring- 
ing forth the fundamental good. Such methods should 
make the prospects of discovering scientific facts more 
and more favourable in the future. 

Unfortunately a miscellaneous study of " isms " and 
" ogonies " is often unproductive. Byron described the 


state of mind induced by ill-judged efforts in this direc- 
tion in '' Don Juan," Canto IX, 20 : 

Oh ! ye immortal gods ! What is Theogony ? 

Oh ! thou, too, mortal man ! What is philanthropy ? 

Oh ! World, which was and is, what is cosmogony ? 

Some people have accused me of misanthropy ; 

And yet I know no more than the mahogany 

That forms this desk, of what they mean, — Lycanthropy 

I comprehend, for without transformation 

Men become wolves on any slight occasion. 

The seeker after the facts about animal-metamor- 
phosis, confused by many undigested propositions, might 
thus also attempt to salve his conscience, for man is 
certainly sometimes near enough to the animal without 
physical change, but he would be fleeing to a subterfuge 
suitable only for the idle and the ignorant. To the earnest 
student there can be no rest until this obscure branch of 
occult science is cleared up, though it may be but a side 
issue leading to more important facts. If in the fore- 
going chapters a grain of truth lies hidden which will 
help to elucidate the problem with which they deal, they 
will have served their purpose in pushing a step or two 
through the darkness which shrouds so many secrets of 

It is the mystery of the unknown 
That fascinates us, we are children still. 
Wayward and wistful ; wi^ one hand we cling 
To the familiar things we call our own, 
And with the other, resolute of will. 
Grope in the dark for what the day will bring. 


Abyssinia, 79, 80 

Accadians, 288 

Agrippa, Cornelius, 285, 286 

Ainus, 182, 188 

Alexander the Great, 174 

Alligator, 23 

Andersen, Hans C, 156, 166, 212 

Animal Elementals, stories of, 

Animal trials, 200 
Antheus, 66 
Ants, 26 

Arabian Nights, 145, 211 
Arawaks, 24-5, 27, 141 
Arcadia, 66 
Arundels of Wardour, legend of, 

Ass, 80-1, 113-14, i3i» 135-6, 

140-1, 149, 155 
Assier, Adolphe d', on animal 

ghosts, 261, 262, 263, 264, 267 
Assyrians, 288 
Auvergne, Gentleman of, 69 

Bakongs, 19 

Barrett's " Magus," 284, 285 

Basilisk, 171, 186 

Bat, 26 

Bear, 17, 147 

Berserkers, 147 

Beswick, Miss, legend of, 229-31 

Bisclaveret, 72-7 

U 2 297 

Bison, 23, 30 

Black dog of Hergest, 241 

Blacksmith, suspicions concerning, 

79, 80, 84, 85 
Black Vaughan, 241 
Blackwood, Algernon, 161, 195 
Blanche Biche, 1 15-17 
Blavatsky, Mme., 273-5 
Blue milk, story of, 268-9 
Boanthropy, 76, 294 
Bodin, 103 
Boguet, 58, 103 
Bouda, 32, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84, 

85, 92 
Bourgot, Pierre, 54-6 
Brer Rabbit, 158 
Butterfly, 26, 120 

Cadmus, 173 
Cagliostro, Count, 197 
Cakchiquel Indians, 184 
Callaly Castle, 232-3 
Calmuc stories, 148, 167 
Cambrensis, Giraldus, 13, 170-8 
Cariden, Joan, witch, 125 
Caridwen, 141 
Cat, 3, 7, 25, 106-9, 128, 189- 

Cate, Anne, 124 
Centaurs, 160, 161 
Chaldeans, 287 
Chalons, tailor of, 60, 64 



Chanticleer, 200 

Cherokee Indians, 3 

Choctaw, 18 

Circe, 131, 132, 278, 279 

Clark, Helen, witch, 123 

Clarke, Elizabeth, witch, 121, 122, 

Clifton family, legend of, 224 
Closeburn Castle, 220-2 
Cock, 45, 198-200 
Cockatrice, 172 
Conairc the Great, 235 
Coneely clan, 233 
Corcini, Andrew, 50 
Cox, Julian, witch, 105-6 
Coyote, 30 
Creeks, 23, 30 
Crishna, 174-5 
Crocodile, 17, 24 
Cuchullaine, 235 

Dodge, Richard, 258 

Dog, stories of, 52, 53, 104, 109- 
10, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 
138, 171, 219, 225-6, 238, 
239, 240, 241-2, 243, 250, 

Dog-ribs, 26 

Donkey (see Ass) 

Dove, 135 

maiden, 211-12 

Dragon, 171 

— St. George and the, 186, 226 

Drake, Sir Francis, ghost of, 259 

Du Chaillu, 84 

Duke, a/ias Manning, Alice, witch, 

Dweller on the Threshold, 273 

Elementals, 281-2 
Elizabeth, Queen, 118 

Eskimo, 19, 29, 31, 32 «. 

— legend, 210 

Ferrers family, legend of, 215-6 
Flower, family of witches, 129 

— Joan, 127-8 

— Margaret, 127-8 

— Phillip, 127-8 
Fotis, 139-41 

Galipote, 54 
Gandillon, George, 59 

— Perrenette, 59 

— Pierre, 59 
Gamier, Gilles, 57 
Geti Afraz, 133-8 

GlanVill, Joseph, 103, iii, 249, 

Gnomes, 281, 282 
Goat, 45 

Gooding, Elizabeth, witch, 123 
Gordon, Sir Thomas Edward, 

Gorgons, 159, 163 
Gormanston, Viscounts, legend of, 

Grand Feneur, 259-60 
Grant, Margaret, witch, 11 
Grenier, Jean, 61—64 
Grierson, Isabel, witch, 108 

Hallybread, Rose, witch, 124 

Hapton Tower, 228-9 

Hare, phantom, legends of, 105, 

Harmonia, 173 

Harpies, 159, 162 

Hercules, 42 

Herod, 42 

Hiuen-Tsiang, 179, 187 

Holt Castle, ghost at, 257 



Hoopoe, 213, 214 
Hopi, 33-5 

Hopkins, Matthew, 12 1-3 
Horse, 111-13, 163 
Horseshoes, 112 
Hott, Jane, witch, 125 
Hound's Pool, 241 
Howard, Lady, 228 
Hyaena, 26, 79, 80 

Iroquois, i8 

James I, 64, 103 

Kaju wizards, 130 

Kalitas, 27 

Kalmucks, 43 

Kanaima tiger, 87 

Kingfisher, 214 

Kirkpatrick family, legend of, 

Kobenas, 37 
Kynanthropy, 76 

" Lady of the Lake," 222 

La Fontaine, J. de, 156-7 

Lamb, Charles, 159 

Lamboyo, 4 

Lambton family, legend of, 227 

Lamia, 175 

Lapwing, 214 

Le Brun, Charles, 42 

Leopard, 33 

— Society, 66, 86-7 

Levi, Eliphas, 67-9, 278-9 

Lilith, 172, 275 

Livingstone, 82, 82 «. 

Ljeschi, 164 

Lohengrin, 146 

Lorelei, 147 

Loup-garou, 12 

Lowther, Jemmy, 227 

Lucius, 139-40 

Lycanthropy, 2, 7, 8, 76, 84, 266, 


— faithless men consigned to 

prison for, 53 
Lycaon, 66 

Magnus, Olaus, 74 

Magpie, 209 

Malec Muhammcd, 133-8 

Mamor, Pierre, 51 

Manx dog, 240-1 

Mara, 147-8 

Marie de France, 72, 74 n. 

Melanesians, 21-2 

Mermaids, 164-7 

Meroc, sorceress, 114 

Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass of 

Apuleius, 114, 139, 201 
Minerva, 173 
Minotaur, 167-8 
Monkey, 27 
Moquis, 33-7 
Moth, 26 

Mouse-maiden, 143-5 
Muscipula, 42 

Naga, 174, 178, 187 
'Nagual^ 19, 22 
Navajos, 25 
Nereides, 164 
Nightingale, 208, 214 
Nin-Gilbert, Margaret, viritch, 

Obrick's Colt, 245 
Ojibways, 17 
Omaha, 30 



Osages, 17 

O-tsze, 88, 90 

Owl-women, 202-4, 206, 207 

Ox, 137, 153 

Oxcnham family, legend of, 216-8 

Pamphile, 139, 201 
Paracelsus, 51, 267, 268, 279-82 
Peele Castle, ghost at, 240 
Petronius, 66 

Pig» 44 

Poiret, Margaret, 60-2 

Pondoro, 82, 83 

Powis family, legend of, 234 

Puck, 155 

RadclifFe family, legend of, 226 

Raqhosh, 151-2 

Repercussion stories, 109, 193-97 

Reresby, Sir John, 257 

Reynard, 157 

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 42 

Roaring Bull of Bagbury, 237 

Robin, 213 

Rollet, Jacques, 59-60, 64 

Ross, Lord, 127-8 

Rutland, Earl of, 127-8 

St. Benedict, 48 

St. Catherine of Sweden, 49 

St. Francis of Assisi, 47 

St. Francis of Paula, 46 

St. Macarius, 113 

St. Pascal Baylon, 50 

St. Peter, 49 

St. Regulus, 46 

St. Ronan, 47 

St. Stanislaus Kostka, 49 

St. Vincent Ferrer, 48 

St. William of Acquitaine, 5 1 

Salamanders, 281 

Samyamay 270-1 

Satyrs, 159, 164 

Scott, Reginald, 64, 103, 113, 

114 «., 283, 284 
Scott, Sir Walter, 103, 222 
Sea-gull, a 10 
Seal, legend of, 233-4 
Sebek, 24 
Sekhet, 189 

Senkepeng, story of, 183 
Serpent {see Snake), 173-88 
"Seven Whistlers," the, 256 
Sidcrial body, 68 
Sirens, 281, 282 
Skin-dress in transformation, 142, 

Snake (^see Serpent), 18, 33-7 

Sparrow, Susan, witch, 124 

Sphinx, 162 

Style, Elizabeth, witch, 126 

Swan-maidens, 145, 201 

Swifte, Edmund, 238 

Swine, 46 

Sybil (Lady), of Bernshaw Tower, 

Sylvestres, 281, 282 

Tamaniuy 21, 22 

Taneana, 4 

Taniiki, 97, 98 

Ted worth. Drummer of, 249 

Thessala, sorceress, 154-5 

Tiger, II 

Tigritiya, 32 

Tinkhlet Indian, 19 

Toradjas, 4 

Tower ghost, 238 

Townley family, legend of, 228-9 



Transformation, methods of, 5-7, 

III, 143, i49-5o> 151-3 
Transmigration, Egyptian belief in, 


— Indian view of, 276-7 
** Trash," story of, 243 
Tregeagle, 242 

Trials of Bourgot, 54-6 

— Gandillon family, 59, 64 

— Gamier, 57 

— Grenier, 61-3 

— Rollet, 59 
Tumbukas, 77 

Ulysses, 131, 132 
Undines, 281, 282 

Valkyries, 146, 201 
Vampire, 4, 47, 53, 290 
Venner, Elsie, 177-8 
VersipelUs, 67 
Vouivre^ 186 

Webster, Dr., 103 
Wells, H. G., 167, 168-70 
Wer-foxes, 88-102, 149 
Wer-lion, 82 
Wer-tiger, 77, 87 

Wer-wolf, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, II, 13, 

5i» 54-77» 290-1 
Wesley, Rev. Samuel, 250 
West, Anne, witch, 122, 123, 124, 

West, Rebecca, witch, 123 
White bird, legends of {see also 

Oxenham), 255-6 
White doe of Rylstone ,117-19 
Wierius, Johannus, 54 
William of Palermo, 70-2 
Willimott, Joan, witch, 129 
Willington Mill, ghosts at, 251-3 
Witches of Chelmsford, 121 

— Pendle, 103-5 

— Strasburg, 109 

— Vernon, 109 
Witch of Niort, 109-10 
Wolf-worship, 65 
Woodpecker, 208 
Wyecoller Hall, ghost at, 258-9 

York Castle, ghost at, 257 

Zeus, 65 
Zulus, 188 
Zuni, 29, 30, 185